Nine months after draining Lake Williams, the York Water Co. has nearly completed the delayed first phase of a project to modernize the reservoir.

The work entailed relining a 106-year-old pipe used to move water from the lake to a pump house below the dam and installing a valve system for opening and closing the flow.

The project was expected to take three months, but after record rainfall in November, the project stretched to nine months.

"It's taken a little longer than anticipated," said Chief Operating Officer JT Hand. "Mother Nature was not kind to us over the last nine months. We've had some historic rainfall amounts, and that definitely impacted the time schedule."

Work crews poured the last 9 yards of concrete Wednesday to encapsulate the new valve system.

Now it's up to Mother Nature to return Lake Williams to its former glory.

"The question on everyone's mind: When are we going to go back out and canoe and fish and do all those things that we love?" said Molly Norton, York Water Co.'s investor relations and communication administrator. 

The company will let the lake fill naturally, with the timing determined by the weather.

"We've had a lot of rain here in York, and we are hoping that can continue now that the project is complete," Norton said.

While construction on the face of the dam is complete, two more phases are planned. Phase two will be the removal and construction of a new spillway, and phase three will involve regrading the back of the dam and covering the grade in a concrete armor.

According to Hand, the construction is needed to satisfy Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requirements. York Water Co. is waiting for permits from the DEP to start phase two, which the company hopes to do by November.

Completing the second and third phases is expected to cost $6.5 million and take until the end of 2020. The lake will not need to be drained for the remainder of the project.

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