DEP to hold meeting on decades-long effort to rebuild crumbling DelCo dam
Pennsylvania environmental officials are holding a public meeting Wednesday to discuss developments on a decades-long effort to rebuild a crumbling dam in Delaware County.
It comes just over one week after concerns about eroding infrastructure at the Oroville Dam in Northern California forced more than 180,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The Broomall Lake Dam in Media, Pa. was built in the early 1880s for harvesting ice from the lake upstream. One hundred years later, in 1980, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned it had become unsafe. In 1996, the Third Street Bridge that runs above it was closed to vehicles. The bridge is still open to pedestrians.
Decades later, efforts to repair the dam have been held up by legal battles over who owns it and whether to change the roadway above to a one-way street. The bridge is maintained by the borough of Media, while the land on the lake side is owned by Broomall Lake Country Club and the downstream side is a 33-acre county park.
On Wednesday night, a public meeting will focus on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to remove about 10 feet off the top of the earthen dam — what the DEP calls a “partial breach” — so that it’s holding back less water. The DEP said this will lessen the threat of the dam breaking, a temporary solution while waiting on a final plan to rebuild it.
“Upon completion of the partial breach, the potential threat to downstream residents will be reduced significantly,” the DEP said in a press release.
While the consequences of the Broomall Lake Dam failing would involve far fewer people and homes than the situation in California, it’s emblematic of the larger infrastructure problems plaguing states like Pennsylvania.
Gaboriault is president of Friends of Glen Providence Park, which is adjacent to the dam. The group has long advocated for removing it entirely and allowing the lake to become a smaller stream.
Until recently, Gaboriault said there was a water main and a natural gas line running through the dam.