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High Point Lake dam repairs will require several more weeks of water drawdown

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High Point Lake in Somerset County.

State officials believe a recent dam failure at High Point Lake in Somerset County was caused by the rupture of one or more wooden stop logs.

The Sept. 2 incident resulted in higher-than-normal flows from the principal spillway outlet pipe, prompting the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency to issue an alert to downstream residents the following day.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission continues to investigate the partial failure with the help of engineering staff, who have been evaluating the design and construction of the control tower and conducting underwater testing.

The additional discharge remains at manageable levels, and water is exiting the dam as designed, the commission said. The overall structure of the dam has not been compromised, and engineers remain confident there is no imminent danger to public safety.

As a precaution, the dam remains under 24-hour surveillance by commission staff. No additional problems have been detected since the original breach, the commission said.

To access the damaged area, officials will continue their drawdown efforts at the lake, with a goal of reducing the pool level by at least 15 feet. To achieve that goal, the commission is using a 6-inch pump and two 12-inch pumps provided by the Somerset and Westmoreland County emergency management agencies.

Required drawdown has been impeded by recent rains and is expected to take several more weeks. There are no current restrictions on fishing or boating on High Point Lake, although the public is advised to stay at least 200 feet away from pumps and other equipment.

The 45-foot-high dam, built in 1965, inundated the waters of Glade Run to create a 300-acre, 37-foot-deep lake near Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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