Tamaqua Borough

Upper & Lower Owl Creek Dam

Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, PA

Upper and Lower Owl Creek Dams are located in succession within Owl Creek just east of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. The Borough of Tamaqua owns and operates the dams. The Borough has received several violations at both of these dams for “seriously inadequate” spillway capacities. Therefore, a complete drawdown of Lower Owl Creek Dam was mandated.

Tamaqua Borough retained Benesch to design Upper and Lower Owl Creek Dams following a Alternatives Analysis presentation for dam improvements. Both dams were designed to meet State and Federal regulations and ultimately remove the dams from the PADEP Unsafe High Hazard Listing.

Upgrades included raising the crest elevation of each dam by four feet, new labyrinth roller compacted concrete and drop box spillways, embankment slope flattening and drainage system installation, access road repair, culvert installation and clearing and grubbing at each dam. Control of water was critical since the dams are in sequence. We submitted full dam permit modification packages for each dam. Design was completed assuming construction would occur concurrently but through two separate contracts. Benesch also completed contract and construction administration of both projects.

The two recreation dams could be completely drawn down during construction, however, the flow from Owl Creek and runoff had to be controlled to protect the construction. Funding for these projects was possible due to the commonwealth Financing Authority H2O Grant Program and private loans obtained by Tamaqua Borough.

Project highlights

  • Upgrade both dams simultaneously
  • Control of water
  • Spillway construction
  • Raise crest elevation