THE ICE BREAKER DINNER FOR MAY 7 HAS BEEN CANCELLED!
January 2, 2020
District Engineer, Philadelphia District
US Army Corps of Engineers
100 Penn Square East
Philadelphia, PA 19107
RE: Francis E. Walter Dam Reevaluation Study
Lt. Colonel Park:
The Lehigh Valley Kayak and Canoe Club (LVKCC) is a not for profit recreational club that supports and advocates for the paddlesports community in the Lehigh Valley. We have been in continuous operation since 1989 and currently have over 380 active, dues paying members representing some 250 families from throughout the region.
The Lehigh Valley Kayak and Canoe Club is one of the largest active paddling clubs in the country, representing all types of paddlesports (kayak, canoe, raft and standup paddle boarding) in all types of water from calm lakes to whitewater to the open ocean. We support trips in all venues and have an extensive instructional program to provide our members with the latest equipment, techniques and safety. The Lehigh River is our main venue for trips and training on both simple moving water and whitewater. Our members regularly use and support access programs for the entire length of the river from White Haven to Easton. In addition to countless ad hoc trips and activities by our members, the LVKCC conducts as many as two dozen formal trips and classes on the river over the summer and fall months, typically coordinated with the release schedule.
The LVKCC has been active in its support of whitewater recreational releases to the Lehigh River from FEW dam since the current cooperative management began in 2005. We regularly send a representative to the meetings when the USACE announces a new plan to make sure that the Corps is aware of our continuing use of this valuable resource. We were particularly concerned when we learned about the Feasibility Study that would change this process and potentially our ability to use the river as we have become accustomed.
As we understand it, the proposal from New York City is to obtain control over water in the FEW dam to support potential future withdrawals of drinking water from the upper Delaware River. The water would then be released as needed to support the requirements for water level in the lower Delaware. We are concerned that this will eventually result in fewer and lower quantity recreational releases to the Lehigh River over the summer. It seems likely that not only would the releases be less frequent and the quantities undefined, the dates and times would be predicated on water need and not predictable in advance. This would make it very difficult for us to plan our events, classes and other activities on the river.
Although it is possible to paddle under base flow conditions in the lower portions of the Lehigh River (between Lehighton and Allentown), our members particularly like to paddle the Class II and III whitewater between White Haven and Jim Thorpe. This section would not normally run at levels high enough to support recreational paddling except for during storm events. Unfortunately storm events are not predictable in either date or quantity, therefore planning for club activities in this section would no longer be possible, greatly diminishing our use of the resource.
The LVKCC and its members wish to declare their strong opposition to any proposal that results in a reduction in either the quantity or frequency of recreational releases to the Lehigh River from the FEW dam for any reason. Any future management plan must remain consistent with the dam’s authorized purpose for recreation and flood control.
Pat Beltz, President
Lehigh Valley Kayak and Canoe Club
c: Dan Caprioli