The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 5, 2013

Que release valve ready for long-awaited repairs

JOHNSTOWN — The Quemahoning Reservoir’s damaged whitewater release valve likely will be on its way to Illinois next week for repairs.

Crews were working this week to disconnect the 8,500-pound, 6-foot-long component. They will send it back to its manufacturer for an estimated $110,000 in repairs, the Cambria Somerset Authority said at its meeting Thursday at John Murtha-Cambria County Airport.

“The project’s moving along quite well,” authority manager Earl Waddell said. “The parts have been ordered. The (Henry) Pratt Co. is awaiting the valve ... and if all goes well it will be on its way to them next week.”

The work is two years in the making. The valve has been in a damaged but functional state since late 2011, when pieces of an intake tower’s gate frame broke off during a routine reservoir drawdown for a fish habitat improvement project.

The authority repaired other components damaged inside the intake tower but held off on whitewater valve repairs last year after Pratt inspectors said the valve could be used as-is as long as new issues didn’t develop.  

But staff have not been able to fully close the valve when it’s not in use because part of its opening is bent, allowing a continuous stream water to escape from the dam into the Stonycreek River.

The board made fixing the whitewater valve a priority in the summer after the intake tower’s insurer, Great American Insurance Co., delivered a $201,951 check to repair damage from the 2011 incident.

Authority Chairman Jim Greco said the hope is to have the valve back by late March so scheduled whitewater releases are not affected.

Reinstalling the valve is expected to be a quick, simple process, Greco said.

“It’s basically going to be a matter of reconnecting it and adding about 50 bolts,” said the authority’s engineer, Dave Minnear of L. Robert Kimball.

David Hurst covers the Cambria Somerset Authority for

The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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