Sheppard-Myers Dam in Hanover: Rehab or Deconstruction?

HANOVER, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Just two options on the table for a nearly 100-year-old dam in York county: be brought up to code or be torn down.

The structure in question?

The Sheppard-Myers Dam in Hanover that was built in 1932.

That dam is scheduled to receive a face lift in the next three to four years. The borough unanimously voted to bring the structure to code, after a push from community members and the borough manager himself.

"It is absolutely a landmark for 'Hanoverians'. Most 'Hanoverians' that learned to fish learned to fish here," said Michael Bowersox, the Hanover Borough manager.

People who live in there view the dam as a part of history there.

The Sheppard-Myers Dam was built in 1932, and was initially categorized as a hazard two dam meaning not a threat to people living nearby. The Department of Environmental Protection recently reclassified it as a hazard one dam, amping up the danger threshold.

"Our spillway doesn't meet a what's called a probably maximum rainfall event which is basically about 35 inches of rain in a 24-hour period," explained Bowersox. "Back when we were categorized as a hazard two dam, that wasn't an issue, hazard one means that if the dam fails, there's the potential for loss of life."

When it was built in 1932, these houses didn't exist. Now, they could be in harms way, according to the DEP.

"We either have to remove the dam and put it back to a creek or rehab it and bring it up to today's standards," said Dave Ault, distribution and dam supervisor with Hanover Municipal Waterworks.

Reconstructing the 190-million gallon dam and bringing it up to code will cost between 4 and 7 million dollars.

"We will be replacing the spillway. We will be replacing the valves. We'll also be widening the breast of the dam," added Ault.

The money for the project has to come from somewhere— so that means up to an $8 increase in your yearly water bill, 3-4 years from now.

Officials say there’s no other way around it.

"This dam was built in 1932, so it's time to rehab it," stated Ault.

People who live in Hanover won't notice the progress right away. First, the borough must hire a designer. That process alone can take up to a year. The repairs will be up for discussion at a public meeting ‪on June 21.