Corps to host East Branch Dam Safety Project public meeting Nov. 9

Staff Writer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District is hosting a public meeting to discuss the progress and activities of its East Branch Dam Safety Project.
The goal of the public meeting is to provide an update about the Dam Safety Project, progress of construction, local emergency planning activities, lake levels and the East Branch Lake facilities to give the community the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Johnsonburg High School Auditorium, 315 High School Rd., Johnsonburg.
Public safety is the No. 1 priority of the Corps' Dam Safety Program. In 2008, the Pittsburgh District initiated a dam safety investigation into seepage-related concerns at East Branch Clarion River Lake near Johnsonburg in western Pennsylvania.
To reduce the risk to the public, Pittsburgh District implemented several interim risk reduction measures including increased monitoring, 24 hours-seven-days-a-week staffing, updated emergency action plans and reduced water levels in the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam.
These and other short-term actions allow us to operate the dam and to meet our public safety objective until long term repairs are complete. A Dam Safety Modification Study was completed and approved in October 2010, which recommended a cutoff wall be constructed within the dam. The cutoff wall construction was awarded in August 2014.
Presently, there is a grouting project underway at the dam in preparation for construction of the cutoff wall.
As part of the public meeting, officials will be providing an update on current lake levels. Currently, the East Branch Dam Lake pool has been low. This year, the lake reached its highest pool on May 30, and since then there has been only seven days that the inflow has been greater or equal to the outflow. Every other day, the district has had to draw from the lake storage to meet its downstream flow requirement at Johnsonburg.
When comparing East Branch to other lakes in the area, the Allegheny Reservoir is also low, however, it will likely reach winter pool several weeks ahead of schedule due to a lack of inflow needed to meet its downstream flow schedule. Tionesta Lake is not low because it does not have a downstream flow requirement.
Other smaller non-Corps lakes in the area may still have their pool levels if recreation is their primary mission and do not have downstream flow targets to maintain.
Pittsburgh District’s 26,000-square miles include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and southwestern New York. Their jurisdiction includes more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood control reservoirs, 42 local flood-protection projects and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources, infrastructure and environment.