Blue Marsh Lake is located northwest of Reading in Berks County, Pennsylvania. This is a multi-purpose project built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District. The dam was authorized by Congress for flood control, water supply, water quality and recreation. Construction began in 1974 and was completed in 1979. The dam is located on the Tulpehocken Creek and the project's water control practices benefit downstream communities. The project provides flood risk management benefits primarily for Reading, Birdsboro and Pottstown areas. Water supply and water quality management practices benefit areas further downstream, including Philadelphia.
While the main purpose of Blue Marsh was to provide flood control to part of the Schuylkill River Valley, over the years the lake has become a recreational hotspot. With over 36 miles of trails, 6200 acres of land, 1148 acres of water, picnic areas, a small beach and boat launches the lake can accommodate all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. The dam is an earthfill dam that that is 1,775 feet long, 98 feet high and can hold upwards of 16.28 billion gallons of water. During the summer months, the water level is maintained at 290 feet above sea level. In the winter the lake is drawn down five feet to provide for additional flood water storage.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is updating the Blue Marsh Lake Master Plan. The Master Plan is the strategic land use management document that guides the comprehensive management and development of all project resources throughout the life of a USACE project. The Master Plan guides efficient and cost-effective management, development and use of project lands. It is a vital tool for the responsible stewardship and sustainability of project resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The Master Plan guides and articulates USACE responsibilities, pursuant to Federal laws to preserve, conserve, restore, maintain, manage, and develop project lands and waters and associated resources. The intent of an updated Master Plan is to present a current inventory and assessment of resources, provide an analysis of resource use, and evaluate existing and future needs required to protect and improve the value of resources at a project.
The current Blue Marsh Lake Master Plan, last approved in 1975, needs revision to address changes in regional land use, population, outdoor recreation trends, and the USACE management policy. Key topics to be discussed in the revised Master Plan include revised land use classifications, new natural and recreational resource management objectives, recreation facility needs, and special issues such as invasive species management and threatened and endangered species habitat. The Master Plan revision WILL NOT address the technical and operational aspects of the lake related to flood risk management or the water conservation missions of the project.
During the process, the team will collect data, conduct analysis, prepare a draft report (which will become available for public and agency comments), and ultimately finalize and adopt the new Master Plan.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will host an open house on March 23, 2023, to kick off a process to revise the 1975 Blue Marsh Lake Master Plan. The open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Berks County Agricultural Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Leesport, PA 19533.
During the open house session, there will be no formal presentation. The public is invited to visit at any point during the 5-7 p.m. timeframe to interact with USACE team members. Team members will be stationed around the room and can share information about the revision process, provide the general schedule, and gather initial feedback from the public.