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Colyer Lake to be Completely Drained for Dam Construction

by on September 02, 2014 1:45 PM

After being partially drained since the spring of 2013, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will completely drain Colyer Lake starting on Tuesday.

Colyer Lake, located in nearby Potter Township, is a popular 77 acre fishing and boating destination for many state College residents. A routine inspection found the lake’s dam was unsafe by modern safety standards. Fish and Boat Commission Press Secretary Eric Levis says this doesn’t mean the dam is on the verge of collapse, but it has still slowly become less efficient and more battered over time.

He says the dam suffers from undermining – when a cavity or crater exists under the dam, causing water drainage to be less effective.

“This is a big issue across the state,” Levis says. “A lot of high-hazard dams need to be drained and rebuilt in Pennsylvania.”

With a project cost of $7.2 million to rebuild the Colyer Lake dam, Levis says this area “is very fortunate” that the commission has secured funding for the project through state allocations. An additional $100,000 was raised by a community organization, the Save Colyer Lake organization.

“You can be on the list for funding for years, so we were fortunate that the local community and legislators worked with the governor’s office and were able to get money for this project,” Levis says.

The lake must be drained gradually as weather allows. Once the water is low enough, Levis says crews of biologists will begin the difficult process of fish salvaging, where fish must be physically removed and trucked to another lake.

“This is a very time consuming process that’s very tiring for our staff and stressful for the fish,” Levis says. “We do save a lot of fish, but we’re very upfront when we say to the community that a lot of fish will die.”

Construction will start after the lake is completely drained later this fall, and is expected to be completed late 2015. Levis says they will then refill Colyer Lake, with the goal of making it useable by the public by 2016.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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