New Developments With Penn Lake Dam Project

Updated December 19, 2020

As We Say Good-bye (or Good Riddance?) to 2020 …

We have heard nothing from the Department of Environmental Protection about the consent agreement.  We expect to receive it very soon and will keep you posted.

RFP Almost Ready 

Members of the Dam Advisory Group are preparing a draft RFP for the investigation phase of the pre-construction engineering services.  It should be completed by the end of December.  Members of the Dam Advisory Group have already met, either face to face or via conference call, with three engineering firms that may bid on the RFP.  Firms which intend to bid will be invited to visit the lake to inspect the dam and spillway before submitting their bids.   The Dam Advisory Group will identify the factors on which the contracting decision will be based to assure that the Borough secures the engineering firm that provides the best value, not just the lowest cost.

Two Grant Applications Submitted … More to Come in 2021

In November, the Borough submitted two grant applications to PEMA.  Many people in the Borough — some members of the Dam Advisory Group but others as well — put in hours of work on these applications.  The first application was for the BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) grant.  It was submitted as a two-phase project with a total request of $9,877,000.  The second application was for a FMA (Flood Mitigation Assistance) grant for a project plan development request of $301,000.

PEMA review of the applications began on December 15.  Applications that make it through PEMA review will be submitted to FEMA by January 31, 2021.  FEMA decisions probably won’t be announced until late spring or early summer 2021.

The Dam Advisory Group will begin looking at possible state grants in January.  The ACT 13 grant and the H2O grant assist with flood mitigation projects, but whether those will be viable options for our project will depend on the availability of funding.  At a news conference on December 2 Gov. Wolf addressed the need for more plans to prevent flooding caused by climate change.  Hopefully, that will translate into more funding for mitigation projects.

Another possible funding source may be a “Natural Resource and Conservation Service” loan which will be explored in 2021.

Finding Financing Options

At this month’s Borough Council meeting, the Council unanimously voted, on advice of counsel, to secure the assistance of a broker to facilitate the borrowing that will be required for the dam project.  The current thinking is that the best option for the Borough would be a line of credit similar to a construction loan.  It is still early in the process and we will provide updates as they occur.

Stay Informed! 

The Dam Advisory Group is committed to keeping the community informed of developments with the dam project as they occur.

Questions about the dam project?

Email your questions to the Borough secretary at and they will be forwarded to the Dam Advisory Group.

Get E-Mail Updates

Sign up at the bottom of this page to receive e-mail updates about the  dam project.

Click images to enlarge.

Drained Lake Gallery 2006

Photos taken October, 2006

Background Information


Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Says Penn Lake Dam is Unsafe

On March 30, 2020 Penn Lake Borough was notified by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that it had designated Penn Lake dam as Unsafe. This designation does not mean that the dam is at risk for imminent failure.  But, it is 115 years old and does not meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Dam Safety and Encroachment Act.  It is classified by the DEP as a “High Hazard Dam” because there are numerous homes that would be risk downstream if the dam failed.

In April 2020 the Dam Advisory Committee was formed.  The purpose of the committee is to guide the Borough in responding to the deficiencies outlined by the DEP and to keep the community informed of developments to address those deficiencies.



VIEW THE “What’s Happening With The Dam?” DOCUMENT

In May 2020 the Borough contracted with Borton Lawson Engineering for a comprehensive assessment of the dam and to recommend repair alternatives and estimates of probable costs.  Borton-Lawson provided their report to the Borough on July 31.  That report and assessment was also sent to the PA DEP.  The least expensive alternative to address the dam deficiencies is estimated to cost $1.9 million.

On August 13, 2020 the Borough Council passed a resolution to place the following question on the ballot for the November 33, 2020 election.

Shall debt in the sum of up to $3 million dollars for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a dam to control and conserve Penn Lake be authorized to be incurred as debt approved by the electors of the Penn Lake Park Borough?

This ballot question is required because the Borough Council cannot legally incur debt over a certain amount without the approval of the community.

On August 19, 2020 there was a meeting with the PA DEP.  The DEP has no concerns with the $1.9 million solution and is not requiring us to drain the lake prior to the commencement of dam construction.

On September 3, 2020 a public meeting was held at the ballfield to inform the community about the developments with the dam and to get community input. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view and hear a recording of it here:



Public Q&A Session with Dam Advisory Committee

A public Q&A Session with the Dam Advisory Committee was held on October 10.  If you were unable to attend, you can hear a recording of the session by clicking on the links below.
Written answers to questions submitted prior to the meeting are available here.