SUNBURY — Delayed repairs to the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam last fall have put the 2022 boating season on Lake Augusta in jeopardy.

According to Andrew Leidich, Shikellamy State Park’s manager, Lake Augusta cannot be filled without the replacement of bag six, which is currently in storage awaiting installation.

“There’s a small chance of a short boating season,” Leidig said. “This is our hope.”

Seven inflatable bags 8-feet tall totaling 2,100 feet line the Susquehanna River and create Lake Augusta in the summer. Last fall, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced that high water levels and worsening seasonal conditions are preventing the replacement of one of the dam bags that comprise the inflatable dam. The bonding agents and materials used in the replacement of the dam bags require warmer temperatures to cure properly for a successful installation.

DCNR spokesman Brad Burford said Tuesday DCNR will provide an updated schedule once further assessments have been made with the impending replacement project.

The boating season typically begins in May when the bags are inflated. The season ends in late September and the dam is lowered in early October, but the repairs caused the boating season to end early for the third time since 2017.

Leidich said the park’s marina docks and boat ramps will not be installed for 2022 season. The main boat ramp at Shikellamy Marina will be available for smaller flat-bottom boats, but parking will be limited to 15-20 spaces rather than the 90 normally available.

Bag six suffered damage in 2019 and inspectors revealed premature damage was happening. “Early wear and tear,” said Leidich during a call Tuesday. Prep work began on schedule August 2021 and the temporary causeway road component began September 2021 but was delayed due to high river levels.

Leidich said work crews must abandon the project once river levels reach 9.5 feet. Bag six was removed when the water receded just long enough for staff to remove the dam.

“It was a wetter than average fall,” said Leidich. The “linear trend” predicted high water levels which made last year virtually impossible for crews to finish the project. During the removal of bag six, it was discovered clamping plates came loose, which hold the infrastructure together. Clamps are set to be tested early this year, Leidich said.

Leidich noted barring unforeseen issues, the project is projected is scheduled to be completed late this summer. but gave hope for the chance to see more boats on the river.

Bag life is roughly 20 years, according to Burford. Routine inspections are performed on bags and bad weather patterns over the past two years have led to more problems than normal. Two routine bag replacements are scheduled for sometime in 2025 and 2026.

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