2012-09-08 / Front Page

$23M Stevenson Dam project draws closer


A lake that formed behind George B. Stevenson Dam after it was built in 1955 is the centerpiece of Sinnemahoning State Park. Work to strengthen the dam, formally determined to be “high risk,” is expected to start sometime next year. 
Photo courtesy of Mark and Judy Walters A lake that formed behind George B. Stevenson Dam after it was built in 1955 is the centerpiece of Sinnemahoning State Park. Work to strengthen the dam, formally determined to be “high risk,” is expected to start sometime next year. Photo courtesy of Mark and Judy Walters Plans are gradually falling into place for a $23 million rehabilitation project that has been given the green light for the George B. Stevenson Dam at Sinnemahoning State Park, near the Cameron/Potter county border.

During a recent public meeting held at the park visitors’ center, state and county offificials shared details of the project and related public safety issues with about three dozen downstream property owners and other interested citizens.

Safety risks at the 57-year-old dam will be addressed with construction of a grout curtain and cutoff wall along the upstream toe of the embankment to eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of seepage through the rock foundation.

Engineering studies have shown the potential for embankment material to wash away, threatening a failure of the dam that could affect communities as far downstream as 140 miles.

Funds for the dam project, to be supervised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will come from state-issued bonds. The Corps maintains Stevenson Dam and three other structures to control flflooding on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Others are Alvin R. Bush Dam at Kettle Creek State Park, Curwensville Dam and Foster Joseph Sayers Dam at Bald Eagle.

George B. Stevenson Dam was built for flflood protection in 1955. The 142-acre reservoir offers opportunities for fifishing and boating in a biologically diverse, sprawling 1,910-acre park.

At the public meeting, offifi cials from the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Cameron County’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) shared details of an evacuation plan that’s in place in the event of a dam failure.

Sinnemahoning, Driftwood and Sterling Run in Cameron County could all be affected, as could Renovo, Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, Williamsport, Lewisburg and Sunbury farther downstream.

Sinnemahoning State Park manager Lisa Bainey (647-8401) is the fifirst point of contact for information on the evacuation plan. EMA Director Kevin Johnson is also involved.

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