HARRISBURG – Five Schuylkill County dam improvement projects will receive funding from Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority, according to the county’s legislative delegation.
More than $17 million in grants from the H2O PA High Hazard Unsafe Dam grant program will help to protect approximately 6,000 residents and more than 70 area businesses that could be affected by failures to local dams in New Castle and Branch Townships, as well as Tamaqua Borough.
“When the State General Assembly created the Commonwealth Financing Authority in 2004 and its H2O High Hazard Unsafe Dam grant program we planned for an announcement just like this,” said State Senator Dave Argall (R-29). “The reason that Schuylkill County has received more than 25 percent of this statewide round of funding for our local dams demonstrates the pressing need for these grants by our local communities, as well as our strong bipartisan support for this dam improvement program.” “These are some of the largest state grants ever received in the entire history of Schuylkill County,” Argall added.
“I am very appreciative of the Commonwealth’s Financing Authority’s grants for repair of critical infrastructure dams in Schuylkill County,” said Congressman Tim Holden (D-17). This investment represents a great step both for safety and care of our water supply.”
$11.8 million will be allocated to three dams owned by the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority: The Kauffman Reservoir Dam in New Castle Township will receive a grant of nearly $2.6 million for embankment rehabilitation and new spillway construction. A grant of nearly $3.5 million will allow improvements to the Mount Laurel Dam in New Castle Township, including improvements to the earthen embankment, construction of a new reinforced concrete spillway and raising the dam crest. These projects will help to protect approximately 4,500 residents, 50 businesses, one school and one hospital that could be affected by a dam failure.
A grant of more than $5.7 million will be used for earthen embankment improvements and spillway construction on the Indian Run Dam in Branch Township. These improvements will help to protect approximately 1,500 residents and 20 businesses that could be affected by a dam failure. In addition, $5.3 million has been allocated to improve the Upper and Lower Owl Creek dams owned by the Borough of Tamaqua.
“The improvements of these dams will not only guarantee the safety of area residents, but will also create many quality job opportunities during these very difficult economic times,” said State Rep. Neal Goodman (D-123).
“It is important for the state to take action to protect the lives and property of those who would be affected by a dam failure,” said State Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124). “I am thankful that this funding will help to reduce this risk for Schuylkill County residents in the future.”
“This funding will help the Authority to improve our reservoirs at a reasonable cost to ratepayers,” said Schuylkill County Municipal Authority manager Dave Holley. “I am thankful for the efforts of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority in providing this important funding to benefit Schuylkill County communities.”
Senator Argall concluded with these comments: “In the 1970’s, I remember when a dam broke near Middleport and flooded my Grandmother Argall’s home. It took us weeks to clean up the mess. About 15 years ago, when my children were still small, a local dam broke open near my home after a heavy rainstorm and the flood came within a few inches of our home. Believe me, I understand how vital it is to protect these structures and, even more importantly, our families.”
Contact: Nick Troutman