A proposal to lower Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir water levels is no longer on the table.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday announced the discontinuation of an environmental study that looked at possible operational changes at the reservoir that could be made to help sustain aquatic habitat during low-flow months. Through the course of the study, it was determined that the benefits weren't great enough to warrant spending more money on the project.
“We feel it is not in the federal interest to continue to spend additional federal funding on further evaluation,” Anastasiya Kononova, a Corps project manager, said in a release. “Based on findings from the modeling and environmental analysis of various alternatives, environmental benefits could occur from adjusting releases during low flows, but these benefits are marginal.”
Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir is a 1,730-acre waterway formed after a dam was built against Bald Eagle Creek by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1960s.
The feasibility study, which sought to develop alternative methods to modify amounts and timing of water releases, kicked off in 2016 in collaboration with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
The total estimated cost of the study was more than $800,000, but because it ended several months early, public affairs specialist Sarah Gross said it will be much less than what the two entities had allocated. A final figure will be determined in the next week as they "close out the books," she said.
Many local residents had raised concerns about how changing the way the reservoir releases water in drought conditions would affect business, recreation and tourism in the area.
“If they lower the (water levels) then there will be no more Howard Boat Club,” club Secretary and Treasurer Butch Hanley said in August. “It won’t be good for us if they drop it by 9 feet, if they drop it by 2 feet. That means we’re out of business because we can’t put boats in or take them out.”
Ed Chamberlayne, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Baltimore District commander, said community feedback "played a critical role in our decision to the conclude the study."
Current operations at the reservoir will be maintained.