Down, but not quite out

Water level noticeably lower at Chapman State Park lake

An opening at the end of the Chapman State Park spillway is dry. I-beams that had blocked that opening were removed over the last week, allowing the lake water level to drop by four-and-a-half feet.

It has been a week since officials at Chapman State Park started drawing down the lake level, and the water is no longer touching the spillway.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is drawing down the lake in order to have work done on the dam.

The first four-and-a-half feet off the top was drained by removing nine stops at the end of the spillway. That draining was done gradually to prevent flooding West Branch Tionesta Creek.

Most of the lake was four to six feet deep, though there are areas near the dam that reach 11 feet, according to information provided by DCNR.

A valve gate at the base of the earthen part of the dam was opened on Monday, according to Chapman State Park Administrative Assistant Laura Whitten. That will allow most of the rest of the lake to drain out.

Duane and Pam Schmader visited the park on Tuesday. “We wanted to see what it looked like drained,” Duane Schmader said.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Pam Schmader said. “I though all the water would be gone.”

There will not be a time when there is no water in the lake. West Branch flows in to the south end of the basin and will continue to flow through the channel that meanders through the lake bed.

The lake level is dropping steadily, Whitten said.

KC Construction is handling the site work. One of the first projects is building a temporary crossing of the dry portion of West Branch just below the spillway. The park’s bridge is not rated to handle the heavy equipment that will be used in the project. Pipes will be installed under the temporary crossing in case water begins to flow through the spillway again.

The section of the creek immediately below the spillway is not flowing, but the water flowing through the valve gate drops into the creek about 100 yards downstream, keeping the creek wet.

The project to improve the spillway and control tower and dredge some of the lake is expected to be complete by December 2018.