The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced today that it will begin to lower the water level at Lehigh County’s Leaser Lake this week in preparation for a construction project to repair a seep in the facility’s earthen dam.
The lake’s current elevation is approximately 6.5 feet below full pool. It will be lowered by another 6.5 feet over the next two weeks. Originally, the PFBC was not going to lower the water level during the recent round of repairs.
“We want anglers to know that the lake remains open for public use,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “But because it is not at full level, trailered boats cannot be launched at this time. Shoreline fishing is available and conditions remain suitable for using canoes and kayaks.”
The spillway at the lake’s dam was completely rebuilt in 2012 and the lake reopened to public fishing in 2013. However, during the refill process, PFBC engineers discovered a small seep in the earthen dam, which has kept the lake from being completely refilled. The area of the seepage was not part of the 2012 construction project.
The PFBC plans to repair the seep between August and October and estimates that it can start refilling the lake by November. The lake can be raised at a rate of approximately one to two feet per week, depending on precipitation. The lake is expected to be fully refilled by the spring of 2015. The construction project is estimated at $100,000.
Since it reopened in 2013, PFBC biologists have been implementing a multi-year plan to restore the lake’s fishery.
“The long-term plan is to stock the lake with fingerlings from various warm-water species, like bass, crappie, blue-gills and yellow perch, and allow those fish to grow over several years into a sustainable fishery,” said Dave Miko, chief of the PFBC Division of Fisheries Management.
As part of the fishery plan, PFBC habitat staff constructed and installed various structures which will help restore the fishery by providing cover for the various game fish, panfish and forage fish that will eventually inhabit the lake again. Multiple partners contributed to the $115,000 habitat improvement project, including the national Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, PA Lake Management Society, Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation and the PFBC.
Funding for the original $3.5 million construction project to repair Leaser Lake came from multiple sources, including $1.45 million through the state’s capital budget; $750,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships program; $500,000 and $300,000, respectively, from Growing Greener II programs administered by the Department of Environmental Protection and the PFBC; and $500,000 from Lehigh County.
Leaser Lake near New Tripoli was built by the PFBC in 1971 to provide access to water-oriented recreation. The lake and surrounding state and county land cover approximately 536 acres, with public areas leased and operated by Lehigh County. The lake features two separate boat ramps and free parking.