LH dams don’t meet requirements; work might cost $15M

LOCK HAVEN — Get ready for the next multi-million-dollar project.

A few years ago, the city essentially built a new sewage treatment plant for $33 million. The project stemmed from the city’s need to meet increasingly tight restrictions on cleaning harmful nutrients out of the wastewater before releasing it into Bald Eagle Creek.

Now the state Department of Environmental Protection says the city must address its three aging dams at its three reservoirs. The dams no longer meet flood requirements, City Council heard at its meeting Monday evening.

The cost of updating the dams could range from $12 million to $15 million, according to studies by two firms the city hired to look into the matter: Gwin, Dobson and Foreman Inc. and Applied Weather Associates.

The dam in Castanea, at a reservoir no longer part of the public water system, was built in 1927. The dam at Keller Reservoir above McElhattan, the primary intake reservoir, was reconstructed in 1956. The dam at Ohl reservoir in Sugar Valley, which is the reserve collection and storage reservoir, was built in 1964.

None of them can safely deal with DEP’s “probable maximum flood” or PMF, according to City Manager Richard W. Marcinkevage.

A PMF would involve “significantly greater volumes of water than these dams were designed to handle,” he told council. The dams would not be able to store or safely pass the resulting water flow.

The flow during the Agnes Flood of 1972 was 1,000 cubic feet per second, but the flows that DEP now requires the dams to deal with are more than 10 times that number.

“They are basically designing for an Ark flood,” Councilman Richard L. Conklin said with some humor.