|HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced today that it will begin to draw down Wayne County’s Lower Woods Pond after an evaluation of the lake’s earthen dam found that the structure does not meet current dam safety standards set by the Commonwealth.
“Failure of the dam does not appear to be imminent, but the dam’s earthen embankment and its spillway do not meet current engineering or regulatory standards,” said Jack Rokavec, PFBC chief of engineering. “In addition, observed seepage paths may be indicative of internal erosion which could represent a serious dam safety condition.”
“The Commission takes its regulatory and public safety responsibilities very seriously,” he added. “The Commission is drawing down the reservoir to protect the lives and property of the 25 residents living downstream.”
The lake can be drained at a rate of about a half foot per day. After the 91-acre lake is drawn down, a natural lake of approximately 50 acres is expected to remain. This is due to the fact that Lower Woods is a natural lake and the current dam acts to increase the size of the lake.
In preparation of the lower water level, the PFBC has temporarily lifted all seasons, sizes and creel limits on the lake and is encouraging anglers to responsibly take advantage of this temporary regulation change. The temporary regulations take effect immediately and will remain in place through March 31, 2013.
“We have chosen to temporarily lift the regulations in order to reduce the number of fish in the lake in anticipation of a reduced lake size,” said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management. “We want anglers to fish the water and harvest and make good use out of as many fish as they can.”
As a result of the drawdown, the boat ramp has been closed. Notices will be posted at the site informing the public of the drawdown and the closure of the ramp.
Lower Woods Pond is located in Lebanon Township, Wayne County. It is owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the PFBC. Construction costs to repair the facility are estimated at $2 million.
The lake’s dam is one of 11 dams managed by the PFBC which are classified by the state Department of Environmental Protection as high-hazard and unsafe. Nine of the dams do not have funding. The PFBC estimates that it needs approximately $43 million to fix or replace the nine dams.