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Bethlehem removing Monocacy Creek dam

Published On: Aug 30 2013 06:47:59 PM EDT

The Monocacy Creek floods historic buildings in Bethlehem as Hurricane Irene moved through the region.


Work will begin Tuesday to remove a 50-foot-long dam on Monocacy Creek in  Bethlehem.

The dam is being removed from Johnston Park as part of a stream restoration project.

City officials maintain removing the dam will reduce the frequency and severity of flooding in the Colonial Industrial Quarter, which is home to some of Bethlehem’s oldest buildings,including the 1762 Waterworks-- a National Historic Landmark and the first municipally pumped water system in America.


Officials add the dam removal also will improve the stream’s water quality while making an additional 1.6 miles of stream habitat accessible to aquatic organisms.

“The Colonial Industrial Quarter is one of the most popular areas of our city,” said Mayor John Callahan in a news release.

“It serves as the backdrop for two of our largest festivals – Musikfest and Celtic Classic – and is used daily by residents and visitors looking to explore Bethlehem history. The removal of this dam will help return the creek’s free-flowing conditions and improve the ecosystem.”

The project is expected to continue for at least three weeks. Flyway Excavating Inc. of Lititz is the contractor and URS Corp. of Harrisburg is the project consultant.

Funding for the dam removal has been provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Community, Conservation Partnership Program and the Northampton County Open Space Initiative.