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Lake Placida Dam Project

Lake Placida Dam Project - Update 1/04/13

Elizabethtown College is pleased to report that the work at the Lake Placida dam is drawing to a close. Refilling of the lake has been underway and was a slow process, as the lake level can rise only a maximum of a foot every 24 hours. This slow refilling allows the soil in the earthen dam to saturate gradually, which maintains the integrity of the dam.  

What appear to be piles of rubble in the lake is fish habitat for the native game fish that will be stocked in the lake next spring. Facilities Management also has created fish spawning areas by installing pea gravel along the shallow perimeter of the lake, this helps maintain a healthy and diverse fish population. Basking logs were placed in the shallows for the turtles to utilize when they migrate back to the lake from the wetlands to which they had retreated during the initial drawdown of the lake. The fish habitat installations are another example of Facilities Management’s historical emphasis to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” reducing the College’s impact on the environment.

On Jan. 9, the College will reopen to pedestrians the walk across College Avenue, the bridge and the dam.  

Later in the spring, Facilities Management will complete the following tasks:

  • lake perimeter plantings
  • lake fish stocking
  • sealing of the bridge wood
  • installation of non-skid coating on the bridge walking surface

Please be aware that the bridge wood sealing and the installation of non-skid coating must wait until the pressure treatment in the wood dries and the wood weathers for a few months, so materials will adhere to the wood. Until the non-skid has been installed, caution signs will be placed at the entrances to the bridge, reminding walkers that the wood might be slippery if wet. Please be cautious when walking on the bridge in wet or snowy weather.

Thank you for your patience as this complex project comes to completion.  


Lake Placida Dam Project - Update 11/20/12

As the Lake Placida dam project winds to a close, the College wishes to inform the campus community about the schedule for remaining work and provide information on fish and turtle habitat and the floating art piece that is planned for installation next month.

The timeline from B.R. Kreider & Son Inc., project contractor, is:

  • 11-26 – bridge installation complete
  • 11-30 – fish habitat installation complete
  • 11-30 – paving finalized, weather permitting
  • 12-7 – top soil and stabilization finalized
  • 12-14 – full project completion

Some non-native and invasive plant removal is now taking place, and final lakeside, aquatic and dam-face plantings are planned for completion in spring 2013.

The fish habitat installation and restocking is one of the more interesting portions of the project. Facilities Management took advantage of the lake drawdown to create habitat improvements that benefit the ecosystem of the lake and improve water quality.

Facilities created this plan in conjunction with the Biology Department and with the support and approval of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Fish habitat is being installed in the form of concrete/rock rubble piles from the old dam and fish crib wood pallet structures. These structures serve as protective points and feeding areas for forage fish and game fish and serve the same purpose as saltwater reefs to attract and sustain a diversity of aquatic species.

The invasive Asian carp that dominated the fish population of the lake in the past were removed so that native game fish such as largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish can be stocked in spring 2013.

Logs will be installed in the shallow areas to provide turtle basking habitat, and native aquatic shoreline plants will be introduced in the spring to improve the diversity of the ecosystem, improve water quality and support native wildlife.

In addition, the Fine and Performing Arts Department and artist James Furhman plan to install a floating sculpture before the lake is refilled.


Detour Map (PDF)


The drawing pictured above is an architect's rendering of the proposed renovated dam and the plantings that will be put into place once construction is completed.     

Over the past 12 years, the College has worked with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Elizabethtown Borough to obtain permits for the rebuilding of the dam located at Lake Placida on College Avenue. This summer, the College will begin work on enlarging the dam to the specifications outlined by DEP. Much of the work will occur during the months of May through September.

In conjunction with Mt. Joy Township and Elizabethtown Borough, the College is committed to minimizing the inconveniences to our community; however there will be times when construction will impact the traffic patterns around the College. Visually, there will be changes to the lake and dam, all of which are mandated by DEP's required improvements to the dam. Some of the more significant changes and construction activities are noted here:

  1. Utility preparation will occur during the early part of May with full construction activities beginning May 21.
  2. Fourteen trees closest to the outlet of the dam will be removed.  Consistent with the College's long-standing policy, we are replanting two trees for every one tree being taken down and we will landscape the face area of the dam with a variety of plantings as required by DEP.
  3. Effective August 3, College Avenue is open for traffic in front of Lake Placida. Drivers should be prepared for flaggers to direct traffic around this area, throughout the remainder of the construction project.
  4. The southeast corner of the Brown Building parking lot will be the staging area for construction vehicles. There will be an increase in the number of construction vehicles on College Ave and Kiwanis Blvd.

Additional information about this project:

  1. The project, which is supported by a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection grant of $1.5 million, is the result of a state-mandated improvement plan.  Additionally, the College is contributing $1 million to the construction project.
  2.  Currently, water flows from Lake Placida under College Avenue through a pipe approximately three feet in diameter.  While the pipe works well under normal rainfall conditions, it is inadequate for significant storms like the local area experienced this past September.
  3. To prepare for major storms, a box culvert will be built under College Avenue measuring approximately five feet tall by 12 feet wide, providing more than eight times the capacity of the current drainage system. This should prevent water from overflowing the dam in all but the most severe conditions, thus reducing potential flooding to surrounding roads, residences and buildings. 

Thank you for your patience as we undertake this significant improvement to the dam at Lake Placida. Should you have any questions or concerns please contact:
Caroline Lalvani - (717) 361-1246 or

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