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More leaking problems at Leaser Lake

There's a new leak at the new dam and spillway at Leaser Lake in Lehigh County. The lake has had its share of problems with leaks since being opened in 1971.
There's a new leak at the new dam and spillway at Leaser Lake in Lehigh County. The lake has had its share of problems with leaks since being opened in 1971.
Duane Sedlock

Leaser Lake located in Lynn Township in northwestern Lehigh County has sure had its history of problems with leaks since being built by the PFBC and opening in 1971. The lake had just re-opened last spring after being closed for several years due to the last episode of a leaky dam.

The lake was completely drained in 2008-09 in order to rebuild the dam and spillway. As the lake was slowly being refilled in 2013, seepage was found around the outlet pipe at the new dam. Re-filling of the lake stopped and won’t continue until the area around the seepage is stabilized.

Sometimes it is normal for an earthen dam to slightly leak but the idea is to control the seepage to avoid erosion of the dam. It appears that the seepage at the pipe is not caused by water from the lake, but a spring outcrop which was triggered when the lake began to refill. The area around Leaser is full of numerous springs.

The PFBC along with engineers and the DEP determined a way to fix the problem and it appears that the corrective measures will not require emptying the lake, nor will it be complicated or expensive.

Whatever the remedy, no corrective measures to the dam will be done until after the opening of the 2014 Trout Season so trout fishing is not disrupted at the lake. Once the problem has been corrected, the lake will be allowed to fill to its full capacity. The current water level (about 6' below capacity) will be maintained until then.

Leaser Lake when completely filled will cover 117-acres with about 4.6 miles of shoreline. The lake is also surrounded by 530 acres of parkland.

Fish stocking is continuing as scheduled, including more trout for the 2014 fishing season. Fingerlings of various species of gamefish have been stocked but the lake is only open to trout fishing. All species, except trout, are catch and release. It is unlawful to take, kill or possess any fish, except trout. All fish caught, other than trout, must immediately be returned unharmed. This regulation will remain in effect until June 18, 2016. Signage to this effect may be missing but these rules are still in effect.

Shortly after the lake was originally filled in 1971, seepage through the earthen dam was observed. Erosion from this continuous seepage had created voids in the dam and undermined the spillway. In 1991, concerns over seepage through the earthen dam prompted the PFBC to drain the lake for repairs. Unfortunately, those repairs were insufficient and in 1999 the lake’s water level was lowered by 20 feet to minimize the risk of a dam failure. It was determined by engineers that best option to fix the dam was to rebuild it. Complete draining of the lake began in 2008.

Some other news for the lake is that the Leaser Lake Heritage Foundation (LLHF) and the Lehigh County Parks & Recreation Department are planning to build an Accessible Recreation Area at the western access to the lake. Proposed facilities may include a handicapped accessible canoe/kayak launch, fishing dock, picnic area, trail and restrooms.