Lake Williams to be lowered this summer for dam upgrades

Toua Moua, left of Leola, and brother Chia Moua, of Columbia, fish from their bass boat on Lake Williams, Sunday, April 29, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

A York County lake will be lowered this summer in preparation for necessary additions this fall to keep it in top shape.

The 106-year-old Lake Williams Dam, surrounded by York and Springfield townships, will get a new valve on its upstream face and a pipe liner, both installed by the York Water Co.

“Although the dam is in excellent condition and has passed all safety reviews, including an inspection each year," York Water President Jeffrey R. Hines stated in a news release, "this work is necessary to keep the dam in readiness for many decades into the future."

Additional work will be done beginning in 2019 to rebuild the dam's spillway and install roller-compacted concrete onto its downstream face.

This type of upkeep is required of all dams in the state by the Department of Environmental Protection, according to the release.

Toua Moua, left of Leola, and brother Chia Moua, of Columbia, fish from their bass boat on Lake Williams, Sunday, April 29, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Fishing derby: To help support the lake's aquatic life, the company is teaming up with York County Parks to sponsor a fishing derby that will help restock the lake after the project is complete, according to the release.

Derby contestants will vie for 100 specially tagged fish, which each come with a cash prize between $25 and $500 from May 1 to July 9.

A total of $5,000 in prizes will be awarded.

Permits were sold until April 30 for $25. All proceeds will be used to restock the lake and promote fishing after the project, the release states.

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York Water also is working with the the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, York County Parks, the Department of Environmental Protection and other organizations to help reduce stress on the lake's inhabitants as much as possible during the project.

The water company and boat commission are working to get approval to lift creel and size limits by May 1, and those fishing are asked not to release catches back into the lake, company officials stated.

If approved, those fishing will have no limits on the number, size or species of fish they can take from the lake.

Fishing will be encouraged to empty the lake of fish before construction. Most of the fish not caught before the lake is lowered will be able to swim through the dam's open valve or be caught and released into the Codorus Creek below the dam, the release states.

Project: After the derby, the lake will be slowly lowered, beginning July 10 and is estimated to be empty by Labor Day, according to company officials.

It will be open to fishing during the process until it's necessary to close it for safety. At that time, it will be posted off limits to fishing, boating, walking and scavenging until further notice. The trails surrounding the lake will remain open, and fishing and boating will be available on Lake Redman.

The anticipated yearlong project requires the bridge on Water Street over the lake to be closed beginning Sept. 4, as coordinated with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and DEP Dam Safety.

Detour signs will be posted, with most vehicles expected to be routed to the Susquehanna Trail, the release states.

When the project is complete, the reservoir will be refilled — which could take several months or more depending on rainfall.

York Water plans to coordinate with PFBC and other organizations on methods, benefits and need for restocking the lake with native fish species.