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Authority to remove Homers Gap reservoir

The Altoona Water Authority is planning to remove a picturesque dam, spillway and reservoir in Homers Gap to comply with a safety order to upgrade or demolish from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The reservoir was the original water supply for Juniata Borough, which was incorporated into the city in 1929, according to authority consulting engineer Mark Glenn of Gwin Dobson & Foreman.

“It’s basically a giant bathtub,” Glenn said.

The authority expects to receive approval for the project from DEP by the authority’s July meeting, Glenn said.

Authority employees will do the work, according to authority General Manager Mark Perry.

“It’s a very scenic area, but it constitutes a liability,” Glenn said at a recent meeting.

The state considers the currently “unrestricted” site to be a hazard, Glenn said, when authority member Jack Speece asked why it couldn’t be left alone.

The authority isn’t looking forward eagerly to the project, but couldn’t justify the expense of restoration, Perry said.

The intake from the reservoir has been abandoned for many years, Glenn said.

Only portions of a decorative iron fence that once surrounded the reservoir remain intact.

Workers will restore about 500 feet of streambed to natural conditions, creating “pools and riffles,” Glenn said.

Workers can use the stones that ring the reservoir and pave the spillway for streambank stabilization, Perry said.

A significant amount of earthmoving will be required, according to Glenn.

There may be some wetlands left as a result of the project, Glenn indicated.

The work will take about six weeks, according to Perry.

The reservoir is just upstream from the main Homer’s Gap reservoir, below which is one of the authority’s seven water treatment plants — but that plant has been offline for some time.

The main reservoir was constructed when the community “outgrew” the original reservoir, Perry said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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