HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 17) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced today that it will host a public meeting in Somerset, Somerset County, on August 17 to provide an update on reconstruction of the Somerset Lake dam.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Somerset Daily American Press Room, located at 334 W. Main St., Somerset PA 15501.
The meeting is free and open to the public. The public should enter the building from West Union Street.
The construction project is expected to start in spring 2018 and take two years to complete, with the lake reopened for public use in summer 2020. The project involves building a new spillway, raising the elevation of the top of the dam, and making repairs and improvements to the dam and the structures used to control the water level.
The PFBC will begin preparations for the construction phase after the Somerset Lake Fest event on Aug. 12.
Between approximately Aug. 18 and Sept. 18, the lake will be gradually lowered by 3-4 feet and grass seed planted on the exposed banks within the reservoir.
The final 10-feet of water will be removed in late September and a fish salvage will be conducted during the week of Oct. 23. The salvaged fish will be moved to Shawnee Lake in Shawnee State Park, Bedford County.
Following the fish salvage, the lake will be refilled up to a depth of 10-feet to create a large pool for silt retention.
“The grass and the partial refill after the fish salvage is expected to help retain sediment and prevent it from washing downstream in the months before the construction project begins,” said Michele Jacoby, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Engineering. “Once a contractor is selected, the reservoir will be completely drained as a safety precaution during construction.”
The 252-acre warmwater lake holds largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, crappies, sunfish, perch, muskellunge, tiger muskellunge and carp. Once the project is completed, PFBC biologists will begin reestablishing the fishery, a process which typically takes 3-5 years.
The water level at Somerset Lake was lowered by six feet in January 2012 to reduce pressure on the earthen dam after state dam-safety inspectors documented excessive seepage.
Governor Tom Wolf announced last summer that he was releasing $25.7 million in capital budget funding for the repair of five high-hazard, unsafe dams, including Somerset Lake, and the design of two other facilities. High-hazard, unsafe dams have deficiencies of such a nature that if not corrected and the dams were to fail, substantial property damage and a probable loss of human life could occur.
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