Dams & Water
DCNR is responsible for operating and maintaining 131 dams, including 47 high hazard dams.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), high hazard dams are those where failure or mis-operation will likely result in the loss of human life and significant property damage. DCNR owns and operates more high hazard dams that any other single public or private dam owner in Pennsylvania.
As dams age, problems develop.
Most of DCNR’s dams are more than 50 years old. Concrete control towers and spillways crack and deteriorate, exposed reinforcing steel rusts and weakens, increased seepage causes internal erosion of earthen embankments, outlet gates leak, and gate operators wear out. Each year, costly repairs are needed. A single dam rehabilitation project may cost $10 million or more. To keep them in operation and in compliance with specific regulatory and public safety requirements, DCNR’s dams must be routinely inspected and properly repaired and upgraded.
DCNR dams that do not meet dam safety standards must be drained and repaired.
This interferes with any recreation that might have otherwise occurred on the lake. Visitors go elsewhere, and the economic benefits to that community are reduced or eliminated altogether.
Some dams still in operation are at risk of breaching with a large rain event.
Heavy rains could cause destruction and flooding for many communities downstream, as well as create water quality issues from the amount of silt and other pollutants that have built up behind the dam over the years.
Each dam removal project may cost $5-10 million
There are several state park and state forest dams in extreme disrepair that DCNR must breach and remove because the structures are beyond repair and threaten public safety.
To remove the dam, we must remove accumulated sediment in the reservoir area and dispose of the dam components and sediment.
are managed by the DCNR in the state of Pennsylvania
across Pennsylvania are considered “high hazard”
The estimated cost to rehabilitate a single dam
Lakes are a major attraction in many of the parks and are important water resources in many state forests.
There are hundreds of natural lakes and ponds, as well as 113 man-made impoundments, on Pennsylvania state parks and forests.
The lakes are mostly man-made from damming a stream in a valley,
and silt builds up naturally behind the dams and across the bottom of the lakes.
Several lakes need immediate dredging due to silting, or their usefulness will be seriously impaired.
This need is not always apparent, as a lake can look fine with only a few inches of water above the silt. Boating has already become impossible in many lakes because of silt deposits. In other lakes, boating is limited to a channel or two that has been kept open through dredging. Swimmers who venture beyond a dredged beach stand knee-high in muck.
of Natural Lakes and Ponds can be found in Pennsylvania state parks and forests
Man-made Impoundments are also present throughout the state parks and forests
The state park system has 2,142 miles of streams, 120 of which are listed as impaired
That means they are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet water quality standards within the Clean Water Act.
More than half the impairments are caused by abandoned mine drainage, agricultural runoff, and urban/residential stormwater runoff.
Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP) provide an analytical framework to protect and restore water quality in impaired waters. The components of a WIP include projects such as dredging, stream and shoreline restoration, creation of riparian buffers, and improved water infiltration.
Improving water quality and providing visitors with aquatic recreational opportunities will require a total of $100 million for state parks and up to $70 million for state forests.
of streams can be found in the state park system
of stream are listed as impaired which means they are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet water quality standards within the Clean Water Act
is what it will take to improve water quality and provide recreational activities in state parks and forests