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High Point Lake residents in Somerset County warned about dam leak

October 2, 2018

High Point Lake in Somerset County.

Residents who live downstream of High Point Lake dam in Somerset County are being advised of a dam failure Sunday that is resulting in higher-than-normal flows.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, which manages the lake for public fishing and boating, said it received an alert at 7 p.m. Sunday from the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency about a loud crash coming from within the dam. A short time later, heavy flows were observed coming from the dam’s principal spillway outlet pipe, the commission said.

Local law enforcement, maintenance and engineering staff were dispatched to the dam and determined that a part of the dam’s principal spillway intake structure had failed. The failure will result in a drawdown of the reservoir, a process that is expected to continue gradually over the next few weeks, the commission said.

“Although the volume of water being discharged through the dam is greater than normal, areas downstream of the lake remain below flood levels,” the commission said.

EMA Director Joel Landis said residents were notified of the situation Monday. There was no imminent danger, he said.

The EMA issued an alert at 6 p.m. Monday advising the public to avoid downstream, low-lying areas along Glade Run, McClintock Run and the Casselman River in Addison and Lower Turkeyfoot townships.

Commission spokesman Michael Parker said wooden planks inside the dam broke, but engineers have not determined what caused the break. Repairs will take some time.

“More water than normal is getting out. The good news is, it’s going out the right place,” Parker said. “It’s not affecting anything downstream of the lake.”

If the situation escalates and the integrity of the dam is jeopardized, the commission will alert the EMA, which will issue an alert to downstream residents. The commission advised residents to remain cognizant of the situation and heed any alerts issued by the Somerset County EMA.

Commission staff will continue 24-hour surveillance of the dam until the situation is resolved.

The 45-foot-high dam, built in 1965, inundated the waters of Glade Run to create a 300-acre, 37-foot-deep lake near Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania.

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