Crews begin slowly draining Lake Bernhart at Muhlenberg | Berks Regional News
MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. — The slow process of draining Lake Bernhart in Muhlenberg Township has begun.
“[In] 2016, [the Pennsylvania] The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) said it was a high-risk dam, so the city had to remove the hazard,” said Kyle Zeiber, operations division manager for the Department of Public Works. of Reading.
After the DEP told the city that its dam was in poor condition, all parties involved had to come up with a plan of action.
“[It took] several years for the engineering to understand how we wanted to do it, the funding and everything to move this project forward,” Zeiber said.
Crews empty the lake about a foot a day. They expect it to take around 10-15 days to reach the required level.
“[We’re] keep an eye [on it] so there’s no breach or anything,” Zeiber said. “Slowly we’re just going to lower it to [where] there is only a stream that passes through here, as before.”
They have already begun to dismantle the dam, drilling holes in part of the thick cement cap of the retaining wall. They must be very meticulous about the process.
“If we were to just blow it up or something, then all of that water would be released at once, and that would be a catastrophic event,” Zeiber said. “That’s why we have to do it very carefully, very slowly.”
Once the dam has drained to the appropriate level, crews will also test the soil on the previously inaccessible island for dangerous lead levels.
The city said an action plan was in place in the event of an emergency.