UPDATE: Army Corps announces open house and tour at East Branch Dam, provides project update

Published May 31, 2017
The Pittsburgh District is hosting an Open House and tour of the East Branch Dam Safety Initiative to include the seepage, cutoff wall construction site.

The Pittsburgh District is hosting an Open House and tour of the East Branch Dam Safety Initiative to include the seepage, cutoff wall construction site.

WHO: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District

WHAT:  The Pittsburgh District is hosting an open house and tour of the East Branch Dam Safety Initiative to include the seepage, cutoff-wall construction site. The goal of the open house and dam safety project tour is to give the public an update on the construction progress; to introduce them to the project and lake staff; and to show integral features of work such as grouting, cutoff wall construction, and instrumentation and monitoring devices for dam safety including piezometers and weirs. 

WHEN: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, June 3. 

WEATHER: Rain or Shine, inclement weather may result in a bus tour only. In the event of severe weather forecast we will notify attendees of event cancellation.

WHERE:  East Branch Dam Project Office, 631 East Branch Dam Road, Wilcox, PA  15870-9748, Phone: (814) 965-2065. Please call the lake office to RSVP for the visit.

MEDIA: On the day of the event representatives will be available for morning and evening broadcast live shots, pre-event coverage, and during the event. Please call the Pittsburgh District PA office to coordinate at 412-395-7500/01/02.

INSTRUCTIONS: This is a free event, open to the public. Please wear close-toed shoes. Some surfaces on the dam and in other areas are uneven or have grating. No sandals or heels. No weapons permitted. Please no large purses or backpacks.

WHY:    The Army Corps is committed to communicating its efforts and progress related to the East Branch Dam Safety Initiative to all interested and impacted parties and to provide opportunities for the public to express concerns and provide input.

PROJECT STATUS: The Army Corps has extended the grouting program currently underway to ensure proper treatment of the foundation rock in preparation for installation of a full-depth seepage cutoff wall. The wall will consist of a minimum 18-inch-wide continuous vertical concrete cutoff wall approximately 2,300 feet long with an approximate maximum depth of 250 feet through the existing embankment dam into bedrock. Completion of the cutoff wall and follow on verification of the repair will allow the Corps to operate the dam at full capacity and restore the reservoir to its regular water levels. The additional work is expected to extend the dam safety project for an additional 7 months. The most recent estimated completion date of the seepage cutoff wall construction is early 2020. The Army Corps and the contractor are working to identify and implement efficiencies in sequencing of the work that will reduce the construction schedule.

BACKGROUND: Public safety is the number one priority of the Army Corps’ Dam Safety Program. In 2008, the Pittsburgh District initiated a dam safety investigation into seepage-related concerns at East Branch Clarion River Lake in Elk County in Western Pennsylvania. To reduce the risk to the public, Pittsburgh District implemented several interim risk reduction measures including increased monitoring, continuous on-site staffing, updated emergency action plans, and lowered water levels in the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam. These and other short-term actions have allowed the district to minimize dam safety risk while still fulfilling the authorized purpose of the dam until permanent risk reduction measures are constructed. 

A Dam Safety Modification Study was completed and approved in October 2010. In August 2014, the Pittsburgh District awarded the $132.5-million East Branch Dam Cutoff Wall Rehabilitation Project to Layne Christensen Company of Ruther Glen, Virginia. The company’s Bencor Division, of Frisco, Texas -- which is performing the dam safety work -- was subsequently acquired by The Keller Group LLC. The work consists of constructing a full-depth seepage cutoff wall within the existing earthen embankment dam.

Following the completion of the cutoff wall, the Army Corps will conduct an evaluation of the repair to ensure that it meets the agency’s dam safety standards. Upon verification of the work, the district will implement a water management plan that incrementally raises lake levels while monitoring the performance of the repair. The district’s main objective is to ensure public safety while returning operation of the dam and management of the reservoir to its regular water management plan.

RESOURCES: For more information, visit: www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Lakes/EastBranchClarionRiverLake.aspx


CONTACT: Public Affairs Office at 412-395-7500 or Email: CELRP-PA@usace.army.mil

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Jeff Hawk
412-395-7503 (fax)
1000 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4186

Release no. 17-018