Environment
8:59 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Whitewater Rafting Hinges On Valve Test

Crews will soon begin another series of tests on the Quemahoning Reservoir's release valve following a just-completed $59,000 repair project. The valve's performance could determine the future of a rafting and kayaking corridor on the Stoneycreek River from the base of the dam past Benson to Johnstown in Cambria County. Project supporters are hoping for a greater flow and more scheduled releases of the water from the reservoir to enhance the whitewater experience and attract more visitors.

Cambria Somerset Authority Manager Earl Waddell said that their current permit is for 150 cubic feet per second (cfs). When they tested the valve in October it began to vibrate, revealing a rusted gate stem. "We had a contractor come in, we replaced all the brackets, we added one new one, and that should stabilize this gate stem."

Waddell said they are trying to get their permit upgraded to 500 cfs. "When we start testing we're going to start out at 150 cfs, ramp it up over a couple hours to hopefully the 500," said Waddell. "And while we're doing this we're going to be testing the water quality in coordination with Somerset County General Authority."

He said they have to test the valve three times to make sure it is not adversely affecting the water quality for Somerset County before the Pennsylvania Department Environmental Protection (DEP) will give them the go-ahead to operate the valve. He said the Somerset County Authority takes water from 100 yards below the breast of the dam for distribution throughout the county.

The tests are scheduled for September 27-28 and Waddell says they're hoping for DEP approval in time for more releases in 2012.