The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 28, 2013

Group working to save lake

Dave Sutor

HOLLSOPPLE — Somerset Lake’s dam has serious structural problems.

But not much has been done yet to address the issue.

So, an organization, named Somerset Lake Action Committee, has formed to help raise awareness. The formal announcement of its creation took place Saturday afternoon at the Quemahoning Reservoir during a Sportsmen’s Expo hosted by state Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Somerset.

The group’s main goal will be to get the community involved in preserving the dam and lake.

“We’re going to have petitions and try to raise some money as well,” said Mike Lanzone, the group’s co-chairman.

The lake is owned by the state and managed by the Fish and Boat Commission, which consider it a “high-hazard” structure. Jim Moses, president of Somerset County Conservancy, said the spillway is not adequate to handle a major runoff from a storm, and there is a wet spot in the dam. Water has been drawn down to ease pressure.

“Engineers came in and studied the problem,” said Moses. “Their evaluation was that the dam should be replaced rather than be repaired.”

Anthony J. Marich Jr., a Somerset County birdwatcher and waterfowl hunter, provided Somerset County Conservancy’s  lake program its first major donation – $1,000.

“I spend a lot of time at Lake Somerset,” Marich said. “It’s really a place of enjoyment for me.”

It is estimated the construction project will cost $7 million.

“Hopefully, we can get the state government on board to take care of an issue that we have here,” Metzgar said.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Dave_Sutor.