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CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: PA-11, PA-15

APPROPRIATION / PHASE: General Investigations

BUSINESS PROGRAM: Watershed Planning

AUTHORITY: Section 22, Water Resources Development Act of 1974, as amended

DESCRIPTION: The Planning Assistance to States program authorized by Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1974, as amended, provides the Federal funding for this project.  Section 22 provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to assist states, local governments, and other non-Federal entities in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development, use, and conservation of water and related land resources.  The authority allows the Corps of Engineers to provide technical assistance in the form of studies and plans, but does not allow for actual design or construction assistance.

The US Army Corps of Engineer, Philadelphia District, in partnership with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural resources and the PA Fish and Boat Commission is investigating whether temporary changes in operational pool levels at the F.E. Walter Dam would provide downstream fisheries habitat improvements and recreational opportunities.  If the Section 22 study demonstrates that temporary manipulation of pool levels alone cannot provide more favorable water temperature conditions downstream, then the District may evaluate permanent reallocation of storage and/or structural modifications at F.E. Walter Dam that allow selective withdrawal capabilities for improved downstream temperature control.  The dam presently has bottom flood control gates used for most reservoir releases and a smaller capacity bypass system approximately 50 feet above the flood control gates.

The objective of this study was to model water levels and temperature for proposed operational scenarios at F.E. Walter Dam and Reservoir to enhance downstream and in lake recreation and habitat. The results were used to help evaluate the potential positive and negative impacts that these operational scenarios will have on flood control, recreational boating, and aquatic resources. A Final Report was completed on July 27, 2009. Phase 2 of the Lehigh River Model Study was executed with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PADCNR) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC), the co-sponsors, on 9 Jun 09.

Although temperature and flow are the major questions to be addressed in this Section 22 study, there is concern for other water quality parameters as well, especially low dissolved oxygen (DO), sulfide, and reduced iron and manganese.  If at the conclusion of this study, funding becomes available, these parameters will be modeled.

STATUSThe final Phase 2 Report has been completed.  PAFBC has requested the collection of additional data and incorporating into the existing hydraulic model to determine potential flow change impacts from the Beltzville Reservoir on the lower Lehigh River watershed. This effort will commence upon receipt of sufficient Federal funding.

PROJECT GOALS: The purpose of this project is to model water levels and temperature for proposed operational scenarios at F.E. Walter Dam and Reservoir to enhance downstream and in lake recreation and habitat. Also physical and chemical water quality parameters for a minimum of six additional proposed operational scenarios at F.E. Walter Dam to enhance downstream and in lake recreation and habitat.

SPONSOR: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

DATE OF PROJECT AGREEMENT: June 9, 2009

PROJECT MANAGER: Gregory Wacik