Chambersburg to pay $2.2 million to breach dam

June 12, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Borough Council decided Tuesday there is no way around spending about $2.2 million to breach one of the borough's dams.

Engineers have been looking at ways to modify or rebuild the Birch Run Dam for more than a year. The dam is leaking and needs to be repaired, replaced or removed.

They came up with more than 23 options, but the borough must breach the existing dam because of severe problems with the foundation, said William Bingham, vice president of the engineering firm Gannett Fleming.


Rebuilding the dam will cost $27 million, but Bingham said adding height to the borough's other dam at Long Pine Run makes more sense because it will create the same amount of water yield for almost half the cost.

"If you invest money in the water system to gain back capacity, the place to do it is at Long Pine," he said.

The borough will lose about 1.2 million gallons of water a day when it breaches Birch Run Dam, but building a new dam that meets safety regulations or adding to Long Pine Run Dam will only recapture about half of the water, Bingham said.

The borough may not need to do anything other than breach the dam depending on the state Department of Environmental Protection's decision on a new water allocation permit.

The borough currently releases 1.16 million gallons of water from its reservoirs in Michaux State Forest, but that agreement with the state expired last year and a new one could require the borough release two or three times that, Bingham said.

Coupled with the breaching of the dam, that could put the borough in the position where it would not have the water capacity to support estimated water use in 2030, he said.

Until DEP makes its decision in the next six months, the council will not know if it will need to add more water capacity.

The borough will move ahead, however, with plans to breach Birch Run Dam.

The council Tuesday authorized an agreement with Gannett Fleming for the design and preparation of contract documents for the removal of Birch Run Dam for $35,000.

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