The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District announces its intent to return East Branch Dam, located in Wilcox, Pennsylvania, to pre-2008 normal operations.
The Pittsburgh District has completed dam safety mitigation efforts at East Branch. The mitigation included the construction and assessment of a full-length, full-depth concrete cutoff wall. During the mitigation efforts the reservoir was operated at lower than normal levels to reduce dam safety risk.
East Branch Lake operates primarily for flood risk management and to improve downstream water quality by means of low flow augmentation. These missions are primary to the operation of East Branch Lake and cannot be compromised.
Mission and weather dependent, this fall and winter, the district plans to store as much water in the reservoir as possible in an attempt to reach the pre-2008 normal winter pool elevation of 1650 feet. In March 2021, also mission and weather dependent, the pool elevation should start its ascent toward the pre-2008 normal summer pool elevation, 1670 feet.
Background: Public safety is the number one priority of Pittsburgh District's 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. The district implemented several interim risk-reduction measures, including increased monitoring, continuous on-site staffing, updated emergency action plans, and lowered reservoir levels to relieve pressure on the dam. These actions allowed the district to minimize dam safety risk while fulfilling its authorized purpose until completing the permanent risk reduction measures.
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 contract to Layne Christensen Company of Ruther Glen, Virginia. The company's Bencor Division of Frisco, Texas, performed the dam safety work and was subsequently acquired by The Keller Group, LLC.
The contractor completed the seepage cutoff wall installation, which was accepted by the district in March 2020. The contractor has finished removing the temporary work platform and placing large rock, or riprap, on the dam's upstream face. The district expects most of the remaining restoration work to be completed before winter, providing the weather is cooperative.
For more information, visit: www.lrp.usace.army.mil and join us on the East Branch Dam Facebook Page.
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