Update: PA DEP & Broomall’s Lake Water Level

Nov 22, 2013 by

As we previously reported, on June 12 this year, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) siphoned water from Broomall’s Lake. This was because the water was not being kept at a lowered “drawdown” level – in violation of multiple requests by the DEP since December 2009. The lake remained lowered until mid-July, when it returned to full level- and has remained at full level since.

Posted by DEP in June 2013, disappeared in July 2013.

Posted by DEP in June 2013, disappeared in July 2013. Click for a closer view to read it.

 

Notice of Action

After siphoning the lake, the DEP posted this notice explaining that the water level was lowered because the dam “is in unsafe condition.” It also explains that “any intentional vandalism, obstruction, or tampering with this drawdown system” is punishable “by fines of up to $1,000 per offense and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days.” Sometime in early July, this sign disappeared.

 

Visual barrier

This visual barrier was installed by BLCC on July 19

This visual barrier was installed by BLCC on July 19

On July 19, for unknown reasons, BLCC put up a visual barrier of black sheeting along the fence, which blocked the view of the lake from the road.

 

Water level

By July 24, the lake had returned to full level, with water coming over the spillway- and it has remained at full level since. When the lake is drawn down, the water should only come through the pipe. When the water comes over the spillway, the lake water level is too high.

 

The lake was back to full level by July 24, with water coming over the spillway.

The lake was back to full level by July 24, with water coming over the spillway.

DEP response to raised water level

On July 26, the DEP wrote BLCC advising that “The lake has returned to its full capacity with water coming over the spillway. With the unsafe condition of the dam, this situation is unacceptable.” BLCC was instructed to keep the water as low as possible: “Maintaining the conduit in a free flowing state is the responsibility of BLCC… DEP requests BLCC to take active control of the lake and maintain the drawdown as much as possible at all times.”

The DEP set a November 1 deadline for a plan to rehabilitate or remove the dam: “DEP is preparing to breach the dam utilizing Commonwealth resources, as authorized by 25 Pa. Code § 105.62, unless we receive a satisfactory plan for prompt rehabilitation or removal of the dam by November 1, 2013.”  

 

November 1 deadline…

That November 1 deadline has passed, and to our knowledge there has been no plan presented to rehabilitate the dam. As previously reported, we await a decision from the Commonwealth Court on the underlying Third Street litigation– and that litigation has stopped forward progress on the project design. The DEP Division of Dam Safety will have to determine how to proceed to address both the high water level of Broomall’s Lake and the unsafe condition of this high hazard dam.
 

You can read each of the letters from the DEP requesting that the water level be lowered:

– December 23, 2009
– March 28, 2012
– July 2, 2012
– May 10, 2013
– July 26, 2013

You can see the Google Earth images we posted in June, comparing the lake when drawn down in 2010 to the lake at full level in 2011.

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