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Report of crack in Pa. dam discussed

March 12, 1998|By DON AINES

Report of crack in Pa. dam discussed

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A dam north of Chambersburg is in no apparent danger of breaking and state environmental officials say it wouldn't cause much damage if it did.

"Monday evening a citizen reported seeing a crack in the face of the dam with water spouting out of it," said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Susan Frank.

The 10-foot high Siloam dam on the Conococheague Creek is owned by Chambersburg's water department, Frank said.

"With the water as high as it was, you can't tell anything," Franklin County Emergency Management Agency official Denny Monn said Wednesday.

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Monn said the water level will have to recede before officials can determine if there is a crack.

"It was a reputable source the report came from," he said.

Built in 1938, it is classified as a low-hazard dam, Frank said.

According to Frank, a breach in the dam would pose a minimal threat to life and property downstream.

"If this thing breaks, it's going to flood some fields down below it," Monn said.

"The real problem is not the water it holds back, but the silt it holds back," Borough Manager Eric Oyer told the Borough Council Wednesday night.

Once a water source for the borough, Oyer said the buildup of silt has probably reduced its capacity to about half a million gallons.

Only minor surface cracks were found when the state last inspected it in June 1993, Frank said. Low-hazard dams are in-spected by the state every five years and the dam is scheduled for inspection this summer, she said.

Frank said water department engineers inspected the dam in October 1994 and found no problems. The water department doesn't use the dam anymore and the engineer's report suggested a number of alternatives, including breaching it.

Along with county and state officials, Frank said representatives of the borough, Greene Township and Wilson College looked over the dam Tuesday. The dam is in Greene Township and the college is downstream from the dam.

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