The Tamarack Lake Rehabilitation Project has progressed according to its initial timeline — an exciting prospect for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and local supporters, including Friends of Tamarack Lake.
If all goes according to plan, the lake, which was drained almost a year ago, could be refilled within four years.
The project is currently in the design phase, which involves securing schematic designs, design development, interim construction documents and construction document to finalize drawings and project details, according to Paul Urbanik, PFBC engineer.
Urbanik reported approximately 35 percent of the design phase is complete with schematic designs approved around mid-March and the next phase tentatively expected to begin by July, potentially bringing the design phase to 60 percent completion with a projected 6 1/2 months before construction.
As it stands, according to PFBC reports, the project is still on track to begin pre-construction around September 2015.
“There are three or four schematic alternatives,” Urbanik said. “One would be to rebuild the dams upstream from their original position. Another would be to improve spillway capacity by either widening or installing a labyrinth spillway.”
PFBC reports presented last year indicated necessary repairs needed in erosion areas around the outlet conduit pipe as well as voids in Dam A and B and discolored water seepage, believed to contain sandy materials.
One or more alternatives could be chosen, depending on final cost estimates, Urbanik said.
Both dams are covered by approximately $11.8 million in grant funding, secured from the Commonwealth Financing Authority by early 2013.
The PFBC declined to release potential construction costs, as it’s too early to determine effective estimates until the design phase is complete, according to Eric Levis, PFBC spokesperson.
“Right about now is the time to start applying for permits,” Urbanik said, mentioning upcoming application meetings.
Some of the major permits required to move forward into the construction phase include an earth disturbance permit, a dam safety permit and permits from the Department of Labor and Industry, he added.
The construction phase is expected to begin by 2016 and last roughly two years. A post-construction refilling of the lake would then follow at a controlled rate, potentially lasting six to eight months, according to the PFBC.
“We’re hoping to have it filled by 2018,” Urbanik said.
Tamarack Lake was built in the mid-1960s to help control possible flooding of nearby French Creek. The manmade reservoir is roughly four miles long and a half-mile wide, encompassing about 562 acres in south-central Crawford County, four miles southeast of Meadville.
The reservoir was completely drained in September 2013 after the lake was deemed unsafe by the Department of Environmental Protection.
“We’re glad they’re on time and the project is moving forward,” said Melissa Fuller, Friends of Tamarack Lake committee member. “On our end, we’re trying to do cleanup days, keep in touch with the Fish and Boat Commission and update our group via social media and our website.”
The Friends has posted updates from the PFBC periodically on their website, going as far back as August 2012.
The organization scheduled a cleanup day for the lake area on May 17 at 8 a.m. in conjunction with West Mead Township’s cleanup days, May 16 and 17.
Friends of Tamarack Lake has the necessary permits to clean up the lake area, which could use the attention, according to the group’s website.
Volunteers are encouraged to attend and can sign up using an online form at friendsoftamaracklake.com/news.html.
“We did it last year as well and got a good turnout,” Fuller said. “We go to the access areas, clean up trash and try to make sure the lake is clean. I’m hoping when it comes back, it’ll be an even better place for the community.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help
Those interested in helping clean up the Tamarack Lake area on May 17 may sign up at friendsoftamaracklake.com/news.html. Friends of Tamarack Lake has the necessary permits to clean up the lake area, which could use the attention, according to the group’s website.