Pennsylvania announces $25.7 million in funding for dam safety improvements

Pennsylvania has released $25.7 million in funding to provide dam safety improvements at five high-hazard structures, and to perform design engineering funding for two new dams.

Announced by Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this week, the projects are being coordinated by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and will address deficiencies that could lead to “substantial property damage and a probable loss of human life.”

Construction funding will be provided to dams located at:

  • Donegal Lake, Westmoreland County;
  • Kyle Lake, Jefferson County;
  • Meadow Grounds Lake, Fulton County;
  • Minsi Lake, Northampton County; and
  • Somerset Lake, Somerset County.

Meanwhile, engineering design funding will be provided for dams at:

  • Belmont Lake, Wayne County; and
  • Lower Woods pond, Wayne County.

“These lakes not only offer recreational opportunities in communities, but also provide enormous economic benefits in terms of tourism,” Wolf said. “Fixing dams in desperate need of repair is an important safety measure to sustain these tourist attractions for all Pennsylvanians.”

The governor’s office said the Donegal, Kyle, Minsi and Somerset projects have all been designed and are undergoing final permitting, with construction expected to being next year.

The money comes from a multi-year $53.3 million plan that leverages capital budget with local contributions and revenue from the state’s Oil Company Franchise Tax (OCFT), per State Act 89 of 2013 that is intended to “design and repair 10 high-hazard, unsafe dams managed by the PFBC on behalf of the Commonwealth.”

The state said it will also eventually use OCFT funds to remove a dam at Hankins Pond, which is no longer needed to support operations at PFBC’s Pleasant Mount State Fish Hatchery.

“With this commitment in place, our agency has a roadmap for restoring the high-hazard, unsafe dams that we manage for anglers and boaters,” PFBC executive director John Arway said. “We will work diligently to implement the plans to ensure that the lakes remain as centerpieces of local and regional recreational economies.”

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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