US Army Corps of Engineers
Philadelphia District & Marine Design Center

Section 22 Planning Assistance to States, PA (Delaware Canal River Walls Study)

Published July 16, 2019

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: PA-1, 7

AUTHORITY: Section 22, Water Resources Development Act of 1974

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. A cost share agreement was executed with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in July 2016. The Delaware Canal runs adjacent to or parallel to the Delaware River from its inlet at Easton, Pa to the historic outlet at Bristol, Pa. The canal towpath is used heavily for hiking, biking and other recreational uses. At locations where the canal is close to the Delaware River there are walls separating the Canal Towpath from the river flows. Historic and recent flooding from storm events has caused frequent damage to the walls resulting in partial and complete collapse. The walls and their condition are not readily visible from the canal towpath with the result that a collapse can occur without warning. Wall collapse places the towpath and canal slope in jeopardy and can also place pedestrian and other traffic on the towpath at risk of injury. 

STUDY OBJECTIVES  The study objectives are:

  • 1 - Prepare an inventory of existing river walls with geographic locations, extent of wall, length, history of repairs, old and current maps.
  • 2 - Conduct joint survey to determine physical status of existing walls and add Repair Recommendations for existing walls listed (URGENT- Needs immediate repair, SERIOUS- Needs Repair in 12-24 Months, POOR- Needs Repair within 60 Months, FAIRContinue Observation., GOOD- Wall is satisfactory condition)
  • 3 - Identify areas along the river walls at risk of future erosion where river geometry under normal pool conditions is attacking the river wall and may cause future failure.
  • 4 - Identify areas along the canal that are at risk of future erosion from the rivers where no wall exists but where river geometry under normal pool conditions is attacking the existing bank and may require the construction of additional River Walls or other protection for the canal.

PROJECT GOALS: This study will assess the structural integrity of the canal walls, identify areas that are at risk of failure and in need of immediate and future repair in advance of a collapse, and provide a report of these findings.

NON-FEDERAL SPONSOR:  Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

DATE OF PROJECT AGREEMENT: July 2016

PROJECT MANAGER: Jane Jablonski