Ashland reservoir upgrade prevents flooding, protects residents

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ASHLAND, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU )– Safety precautions are being taken in Schuylkill County to prevent flooding. An upgrade project to the reservoir in Ashland is finished, meaning residents will now be safer if and when a big storm hits.  

The Ashland Area Municipal Authority reservoir supplies water to residents in the borough of Ashland and Butler Township. The reservoir was constructed in 1926, and didn’t meet current safety requirements. To comply with state mandates, the reservoir needs to be able to handle a probable maximum flood.

“What would happen if that storm was to ever come, the reservoir would have overtopped the top of the embankment and flooded the area downstream,” said Jennifer Kowalonek, project manager with Benesch engineering.

To fix this, engineers raised the embankment by 6 feet, making it 75 feet high.

“What this does is actually increases the capacity of that spill way to allow that probable maximum flood to pass through the spillway,” added Kowalonek.

Valving was also replaced, and upgrades were put in place to help with seepage.

“The goal was to prevent any flooding from downstream. Mostly safety for anyone who lives downstream,” said Sean Reilly, resident project representative with Benesch .

By preventing flooding, they’ve also prevented erosion and a breach in the dam. Putting the project cost at more than a million dollars.

“We only have a small community here and it takes a lot to pay it back,” said Jerome Schomoltze, with the Ashland Municipal Water Authority.

It won’t come out of residents’ water bills – but through budgeted loan payments for the next 20 years.

“I think the users are fortunate that we have such a good dam. And everything fell into place for us,” added Bill Cripplebauer, with the Ashland Municipal Water Authority.

The dam still needs some additional work on some valves– that should be done by the end of the year.

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