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Holtwood Dam - Susqehanna (PA)

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Some of the best bigwater wave surfing in the eastern U.S. can be found below Holtwood Dam on Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River. When water spills over the dam each spring, roughly a dozen different waves are formed in this huge channel, attracting paddlers from across the region. The rapids at Holtwood are all that is left of what was likely many miles of rapids now buried below reservoirs created by Conowingo and Holtwood dams.


The operator of Holtwood Dam on the Susquehanna River (PA) proposed to significantly change the operations on the dam and the shape of the river channel downstream of the dam. As originally planned, this project would have destroyed a valuable whitewater recreational resource. American Whitewater joined and assisted a group of paddlers that formed to work with the dam operator on a revised plan. A settlement agreement was negotiated that lead to an amended FERC license that protected most of Holtwood's great whitewater features and mitigate the loss of others with the construction of a whitewater park and provision of 264 releases annually.

You can find the schedule of whitewater park releases here, and stay up to date on the Holtwood Whitewater Park Facebook Page

Holtwood Whitewater Park to Open this Month (PA)

03/05/2015 - by Kevin Colburn

The schedule for the first year of operation of the Holtwood Whitewater Park has been posted on the dam owner's website. American Whitewater and our local partners negotiated the construction of the park and 264 hours of releases annually as mitigation for impacts of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project.  The first scheduled release is on Saturday March 14, 2015.

Holtwood Whitewater Park to Open in 2015 (PA)

12/15/2014 - by Kevin Colburn

Anticipation was running high for the first public dam releases on the newly constructed Holtwood Whitewater Park this fall, however the final round of testing in early October revealed more work was needed before opening the park. Testing and modifications are ongoing, and we'll release a schedule of releases early next year.  The good news is that the waves are going to be incredible.

Wave Construction at Holtwood (PA) Begins

08/09/2012 - by Kevin Colburn

Earlier this week the owner of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project on the Susquehanna River (PA) initiated a construction process that will result in two sizeable whitewater waves at the base of a defunct fish ladder on the west side of the dam.  Once completed, the waves will be activated by 264 hours of scheduled water releases each year as well as by significant periods of spill.  The waves will provide for high quality freestyle kayak surfing opportunities.  Construction is anticipated to be complete by year end, and releases should begin no later than the summer of 2013.

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Final Holtwood Plan Ready For Federal Approval (PA)

01/03/2012 - by Kevin Colburn

On December 15th, 2011, the owner of Holtwood Dam on the Susquehanna River submitted a whitewater boating plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for approval. The plan calls for two new whitewater features to be built immediately downstream of Holtwood Dam along the York County side of the Susquehanna River at the base of a defunct fish ladder. It is anticipated that the construction of the features will occur in 2012, and will be fully operational in 2013.

The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.

Title Name City
Aw-regional-coordinator Chris Iverson Wrightsville PA Details...
Aw-staff-lead Kevin Colburn Missoula MT Details...

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