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Dam Breach

By now most of our members are aware that Lake Shawnee’s Dam breached due to the heavy rain and snow melt that occurred on Saturday and into Sunday. The National Weather service placed the total rainfall for the storm at 5.53 inches and the roughly 24 inches of snow that melted generating about what is equivalent to two and half inches of rainfall. For a total of 8 inches of rain which is about the same amount of rain as the 100 year storm event.

This heavy rain caused an overtopping of the dam on Saturday night, flooding the roadway with water running through the Gatwyn’s lower parking lot. This river of water caused a scouring of the dam closest to the spillway which ate away at the earthen embankment which is considered our dam. For those who don’t know, our dam starts at the beach, goes past the docks to the spillway or “waterfalls” and then continues on to the low level outlet or “sluice”.

The Lake’s engineer Gerry Remsen and I have been in contact with NJDEP-Dam Safety Section on how to best proceed with stabilizing the breach and what steps need to be taken to restore the lake. A NJDEP Dam Safety inspector was here on Sunday afternoon and again on Monday and will be back again on Tuesday. All the Board Members have been apprised of the situation and are being kept up to date. Township Officials including Mayor Felter and Twp. Engineer Jeff Elam have been onsite and have offered any assistance they can.

Unfortunately this will be slow process. Right now we have been trying to reduce the lake level. This will reduce the flow of water through the breach so material can be placed to stabilize the area. This should start on Tuesday. Al Hutchins & Son Excavating will start to place large stone and interlocking blocks on the upstream side of the breach by the end of the dock. This work will of course be supervised by the Lake’s Engineer. Once the breach is stabilized the area must be inspected and an investigation must be done to determine the extent of the damage and whether or not the spillway itself has been comprised. The NJDEP will then advise us as to the next step of the process and to what extent we will have to re-build. Make no mistake about it; this could be very costly to the club if we have to do extensive re-building.

During the stabilization and until the dam is completely rebuilt in conformance with standards set by Army Corp of Engineers, FERC and NJDEP Dam Safety the low level outlet will have to remain open and allow water to pass. While it may seem unfair the lake level must be kept low, it could be worse in that we no longer have a lake to enjoy. So we ask that everyone please be patient during this process.

I will do my best to keep our members up to date as to our progress in this project. A big thank you to Club Member Gerry Remsen and to anyone and everyone who has helped during this unfortunate event.

Eric Wilsusen
Club President


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