There's a lot less water in the Octoraro Lake.
That's good news for fishermen, said Chester Water Authority's director of engineering Brian P. MacEwan
"It allows them a lot more shoreline access," MacEwan said last week.
Over the past several weeks, the lake's water level has been dropped and it is now about two and a half feet lower than normal. That will allow a contractor to work on the two flood gates of the dam that impounds the reservoir.
"We have to do that every 10 years. FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] requires us to do a full lift test on the gates and this gives us the opportunity to rehab the lifting motors," MacEwan said. "We'll also do some maintenance on the gates and repaint them as well."
The contractor installed a bulkhead last week to divert the flow around the dam and allow access to the flood gates.
The level will remain low throughout the summer and into the fall.
"The project is scheduled to go through next spring. If it gets done early, the bulkhead will be removed. If not, it will have to be replaced next year and the work finished," MacEwan said.
That's because the reservoir has to take all the rainfall when the ground is frozen and the flood gates may be needed to quickly lower the lake's level. During warmer months, the ground absorbs some of the rainfall and it is less likely the reservoir will rise enough to be in danger of overflowing.
The lake is formed by the East and West Branches of the Octoraro Creek. It feeds the authority's treatment plant at Spruce Grove, Little Britain Township. Treated water is pumped from the plant to customers in Lancaster, Chester, and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania and, most recently, Rising Sun in Cecil County, Md.
When it is full, it holds about 2.1 billion gallons of water.
Although the authority also has a pipeline to a pump station on the Susquehanna River, the majority of the water for the treatment plant comes from the reservoir.
Silt has been accumulating in the lake since it was formed in the late 1940s and is now forming peninsulas where the two branches join the lake.
But the silt is not creating a problem, the engineer said.
"We have no plans to dredge [the silt from] the lake," MacEwan said.