York County Lake is low to protect people, but it’s a wildlife issue these people love

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – The problem was not new, but flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Ida proved that something really needed to be done about a 250-year-old dam in Silver Lake in the Lewisberry region of York County. .

The owners there say they don’t disagree with this finding by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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“We understand why the regulations are in place,” said Van Hoffman, who lives with his wife in a house built in 1927 by his great-grandparents. “We want to follow the rules.

The problem: the cost, which nobody knows for sure but everyone agrees that it will be well in the six figures.

For now – to prevent future flooding until the dam is fortified – DEP requires the lake to remain pulled.

“If not properly maintained, dams can pose a risk to life and property downstream,” the department said in a statement to abc27 News. “As a precautionary measure, DEP requires that the level of the Silver Lake reservoir remain in a partially lowered state until the dam is appropriately rehabilitated.”

Silver Lake is about 30 inches below its normal level, said Van Hoffman, the fourth generation resident.

Other “residents” – including four endangered bird species and no longer endangered bald eagles – have been here even longer. People like Hoffman and John Taylor – who moved there three years ago when the lake was full – fear that low water levels could threaten the health of the fish. That, besides making the lake less attractive to humans fishing there, could mean less food for the birds. The lake, Taylor explained, sits along what’s known as the “northern flyway,” a key corridor for migrating birds.

Taylor and Hoffman are both directors of the board of directors of the Silver Lake Community Association.

The challenge: either to find the money – whatever the amount – or to face the aesthetic and short-term quality of life consequences, and the long-term environmental consequences, of a low lake.

So they try to find the money. They hope for cash donations from those who can afford it – or otherwise work on what they call “Labor Day Saturdays,” fixing what they can with their own hands.

Bank loans are also a possibility. And they are exploring what would be called a “stewardship program,” whereby people who have enough money to do so would make interest-free loans to cover the cost of repairs and then be reimbursed by the association for a period of time. 20-year period. period.

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