For those who felt that the saga of the Chandler’s Mill Pond Dam had come to a conclusion last year with the completion of the restored dam, a report from the Department of Wildlife Resources dropped in to show that there was one more plot twist in this dam story. The letter found its way to Westmoreland County’s Board of Supervisors, who in turn updated the public on the situation during their monthly meeting last week.
It was during a massive storm in November last year that the first major indicator of trouble arose. On the night of the 12th, the water rose up and over the embankments, as well as onto Route 3 itself, something which the letter noted should not be happening. Following this incident, the Department of Wildlife Resources inspected the dam to figure out just what the problem was.
Between the time of the dam’s failure back in 2015 and the end of its reconstruction in 2020, quite a lot of grass and reeds had grown in the dry bed. The vegetation died after being submerged, but not before throwing one final spanner in the works. It was during the storm that the screening on the tower portion of the dam got clogged with a matting of grasses, reeds, and leaves that broke loose from the pond bed, which in turn led to the overflow and the dam’s water level being dropped yet again. This was possible thanks to the folks that built the dam forgetting to put an emergency spillway in the design.
As of the time of this writing, the DWR is working on keeping this sort of thing from happening again, starting with additional caging to control floating debris. The area is also set to be regraded so that storm water can flow more freely while allowing the dam to maintain integrity. It is anticipated that, as of the time of this writing, there are approximately two more weeks to go before the designs are finished, after which the permitting and bidding can begin, with construction taking place in February. When all is said and done, it is anticipated that the water level should be at least a foot lower in order to account for storms.
To say several of the Board of Supervisors were disappointed and annoyed with this is a massive understatement, but Vice Chairman Hynson brought the house down after quipping “The next time we decide to fix the dam, we’re gonna get a bunch of those fat, brown, furry fellas, because they’ll probably build a proper dam. We’ll know who to go to next time.”