Contractors are nearing completion of work being done to the new Lower Owl Creek Dam in Tamaqua.

"Both the upper and lower dams of the Owl Creek reservoir are substantially complete," said Rob Jones, Tamaqua Public Works director. "Only a small punch list of items remain."

Jones added that both dams are expected to be refilled with water after a refilling plan is approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. The plan involves officials to closely monitor the filling of the dams.

Throughout construction of both dams, temporary dams were constructed to allow contractors to work in dry conditions.

The majority of work on the Upper Owl Creek Dam was completed in November.

Work on both the dams was started following an inspection of dams by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which deemed the dams unsafe and provided the borough with the option of either breaching or repairing them. Work on the lower dam, initially built in 1928, is being done by Alfred Benesch & Company and Schnabel Engineering, the same engineers for the upper dam.

The new lower dam, an earthen fill embankment type dam, is approximately 33 feet high and 1,000 feet long, with a capacity of 55 million gallons of water.

Plans are to fill both dams back up with water for a wide array of recreational activities, with the exception of swimming or gas-powered motors.

"When work is done on both the upper and lower dams, both reservoirs will be filled back up with water for the community to cherish and enjoy," said Micah Gursky, president, Tamaqua Borough Council, during a previous news conference. "Tamaqua chose to save a valuable water and recreational resource. Now, generations from now will be glad Tamaqua voted to save the dams."

Jones added that the upper dam was already stocked with fingerlings in preparation for its re-opening.

Final work to both dams is expected to be completed in the next month or so.