WILMORE – The Cambria Somerset Authority dropped the water level in the Wilmore Reservoir by more than 6 inches Tuesday as a safety move.

The step was taken when the level of water flowing over the spillway reached 18 inches deep, authority Chairman Jim Greco said. That region received more than 5 inches of rain in two days.

“It’s not a big deal,” Greco said, adding that overflow is considered dangerous when the level reaches 2 feet above the spillway. “It’s now down to less than a foot (over the spillway).”

The release at the reservoir in Summerhill Township started just before 11 a.m. and lasted about three hours.

It was monitored by emergency officials from Summerhill Township and Cambria County. Warnings to monitor the situation were issued to residents downstream along the Little Conemaugh River to Johnstown.

“Everything was pretty much a precautionary measure. There was quite a visual difference in the level of the water when (the release) was completed,” said Brian Feist, executive director of the Cambria County Department of Emergency Services.

While the river level increased significantly directly below the reservoir, no problems were reported, officials said.

The release was a first for George Fedore, Summerhill Township director of emergency management. “It was never a bona fide emergency,” he said. “Water was oozing through the breast, so they lowered the lever to release some of the pressure.”

The last controlled release in Cambria County was in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan hit: Water was released downstream from the Cherry Tree Reservoir in Susquehanna Township, Feist said.

County commissioners monitored the situation.

“When they contacted us, I immediately checked the radar and saw there was no more rain in the forecast,” Commissioner P.J. Stevens said.

The Wilmore Reservoir holds 1 billion gallons of water, or one-twelfth the amount in the Que-mahoning Reservoir, Greco said.

Recommended for you