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Support Needed for Lehigh Releases (Updated)

Posted: 03/01/2005
By: Charles Walbridge

The Lehigh River below the Francis E. Walter dam runs through a scenic gorge containing 26 miles of Class II-III whitewater. For the last five years Pennsylvania Senator Stuart Greenleaf has worked closely with American Whitewater, local outfitters and paddling clubs to relocate a low-lying road on the upstream face of the dam. This will increase the project's managed storage capacity and give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers additional flexibility to store and release water. 

At a public meeting on Feb. 24th the Corps unveiled their proposed management plan. It includes a five-fold increase in the number of whitewater releases in 2005: a total of 30 750-1000 cfs water releases between May and October as compared to seven 500-700 cfs releases in a normal year. They will also increase low-flow augmentation for fisheries enhancement by providing 50% more days with flows over 250 cfs, a level considered ideal for fish.

View a powerpoint of the proposal at:

Their proposal has the support by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Lehigh Gorge State Park. American Whitewater strongly supports these efforts.  Managing dams is a significant burden with public responsibilities.  The enhancements proposed by the ACOE will enhance the ecological and recreational benefits of the dam and will better mitigate the dam's impacts.    

The proposed 2005 whitewater release schedule is as follows:

May 7-8;14-15; 21-22; 28-29
June 4-5, 11-12; 18-19; 25-26
July 2-3; July 23-24 August 6-7; 20-21
September 3-4; 17-18
October 1-2

The Corps is looking for public comments on this plan and it is vital for interested paddlers to express their support. Short letters saying that you are a paddler with an interest in the river and you support the proposed release schedule is all that is needed.   

Please don't put this off! Various elements, local and statewide, are not friendly to paddlers and are expected oppose this program.

Please send supporting letters to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Philadelphia District
Attn: Merv Brokke
Wannamaker Building
100 Penn Square East
Philadelpia, PA 19107

Subject: Francis E. Walter Dam Flow Management

For more information, view the ACOE website:

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