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Canonsburg Lake Restoration

Degraded Canonsburg Lake

Progress during 2013

The end of 2013 saw significant progress toward the restoration of Canonsburg Lake, according to project engineer Chand Davis. Mr. Davis reported on this development at the December 19 meeting of the Canonsburg Lake Restoration & Improvement Committee.

Most important—the required applications for state and federal permits have been submitted. These include permits for working in the wetlands, for installation of the weir at the head of the lake, and for the needed dredging of the lake. While waiting for the permit approvals, we have been able to complete plans for the access road from McDowell Lane to the construction site of the weir on Little Chartiers Creek.

Members of the committee have also continued to raise funds for restoration of the lake. One recent project—Dollars for Dredging—is a combination fund-raising and information tool. Carole Milas, a member of the committee, has distributed donation boxes to a number of businesses in Peters Township.

Background on lake restoration project

For a number of years, the Canonsburg Lake Restoration & Improvement Committee has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on plans to clean up, restore, and preserve Canonsburg Lake. These plans—now completed—include the following activities, as described by the Corps of Engineers:

The Pittsburgh District Corps of Engineers (District) is proposing to restore a portion of the degraded aquatic ecosystem of Canonsburg Lake located along Little Chartiers Creek in Washington County, PA near State Route 19. The lake is formed by Alcoa Dam, originally built in 1943 to create a source of industrial water supply. In 1958 the lake and dam were donated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; they are managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Since its completion, the lake has been filling with sediment at the rate of approximately 0.1 feet per year. Because of sedimentation, the original 76-acre lake has been reduced to about 63 acres, and its maximum depth has been reduced from 42.6 feet to about 11.5 feet. In addition the lake has been degraded by excessive sediment inflow and phosphorous-loading from agricultural fertilizers used in the watershed. As a result, the lake is now inhabited by increasing numbers of less desirable fish species, such as gizzard shad and carp that thrive in warm, shallow, eutrophic waters.

The Corps proposes to use a combination of lake dredging and in-lake sediment disposal within geotubes (very large, porous fabric "bags") placed along the shoreline in strategic locations to create 13.48 acres of shallow water submerged aquatic habitat, 2.02 acres of emergent wetland habitat, 0.97 acres of riparian zone habitat, and 10.27 acres of deepwater habitat. The recommended plan will restore a total of 26.74 acres of the lake at a cost of approximately $6 million.
[Note: in addition, the project requires local funds totaling about $2.1 million, which the Save Canonsburg Lake Committee is now trying to raise.]

To meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act for this project, the District prepared a Feasibility Study containing an Environmental Assessment (EA), and a draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) that describes the restoration project and its associated impacts.

About the Committee

The Canonsburg Lake Restoration & Improvement Committee (which includes some members of the ChCWA) was formed in 2000 by committed citizens who implement projects to improve the Lake environment, and meet regularly to generate public awareness, gain support, and investigate funding sources.

For more information . . .