On Sept. 2, a sudden intake spillway failure at a Pennsylvania dam has caused an increase in the downstream flow coming out of the lake, according to state officials.
"Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) staff was alerted by the Somerset County EMA that a local resident of the High Point Lake Dam reported that they had heard a loud crash from within the dam," the state agency said in a news release.
"A short time later, heavy flows were observed discharging from the dam's principal spillway outlet pipe."
Though higher than normal, the flows at High Point Lake did not pose an immediate flood danger downstream. Nevertheless, officials sent out alert notices to residents downstream in Lower Turkeyfoot and Addison townships and confluence and Ursina buroughs.
PFBC staff will continue 24-hour surveillance of the dam until the situation is resolved. If the situation escalates and the integrity of the dam is jeopardized, PFBC staff will alert the Somerset County EMA, which will issue an alert to downstream residents. Residents should remain cognizant of the situation, and heed any alerts issued by the Somerset County EMA.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission said the lake, which is in near Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania, will have to be drawn down to make repairs. The High Point Lake Dam is a 45-foot high dam that was constructed in 1965. The dam inundated the waters of Glade Run to create the 300-acre, 37-foot deep lake.
As of Sept. 8, High Point Lake was still open to fishing.
"Everything is still on as far as fishing and boating goes," said Michael Parker, PFBC communications director. "We are advising boaters to stay back from the dam, about 200 feet, because of repair assessments and equipment that is in the area."
The lake has only dropped about 6 inches per day. Eventually, Parker said, engineers believe that they will "try to get the water level down 15 feet to make repairs. So the lake is about 37 feet deep and would be about 20 feet deep when repairs are made."
Parker also pointed out, however, that the situation could change as engineers make a more complete analysis of the dam's problems.
Traditionally, High Point Lake has offered anglers good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, pike, walleye yellow perch and bullhead. The PFBC has stocked walleye fingerlings in the lake. Boats are limited to electric powered or "unpowered" boats, for which a PFBC permit is required (permits are issued by the Commission or PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources).
>> Click here for updated news from the PFBC on High Point Lake as the situation develops.
>> Click here for general information on PFBC lakes, including High Point Lake.