Dam Debate

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NEW BERLIN --Some people in one part of Union County are against the proposed removal of a dam at Penns Creek. But officials with the Department of Environmental Protection say removing the dam would stabilize the creek, which is eroding.

This dam in Penns Creek has been in the borough of New Berlin for more than 200 years. Officials at DEP say Penns Creek is eroding, and one way to fix it would be to remove the dam. DEP field representative Jason Fellon said it would make the creek flow better.

"This dam is collecting a lot of sediment. We're getting a lot of increased temperatures and algae growth. That changes water quality here in a negative way," Fellon said.

"It's also over-widened. It's causing stream bank erosion on both sides, so we're hoping to fix all of the stream bank erosion problems. We're hoping to fix the nutrient and temperature problems," Shanon Burkland-Stamm of Union County Conservation District said.

Not everyone is happy about the idea of removing the dam. DEP held an information session at New Berlin Commons. Around 30 people who live along Penns Creek voiced their opinions.

"I love the dam. I love the creek and the wildlife that we see and the children playing. It's a great place for the children to come and go fishing," Ginny Hoffman said.

"It's just a piece of our heritage. This is the bicentennial of Union County and it just seems funny to throw something away," Cyndi Arbogast said.

Cyndi Arbogast brought along pictures she took of the dam.

"I think it should be a part of recreation for our children and our grandchildren to have something like this," Arbogast said.

"I feel encouraged because I feel there's more people against removing the dam than the other way," Hoffman said.

If DEP were to remove the dam from Penns Creek, officials say the project is already paid for through grant money. But today was only an informational session. There will be more public meetings scheduled before New Berlin Borough Council votes.