Canal News – Summer 2016
The days of May were glorious along the Delaware Canal. In Easton, the abundant water being fed from the Lehigh River filled the Canal all the way south to the Virginia Forrest Recreation Area, 1.3 miles north of Centre Bridge. (At this location, the water had to be released into the Delaware River so that the Redfield Bridge replacement construction site was not inundated.)
A new, more efficient pump, purchased by the Friends and New Hope for Our Canal, supplied River water into the Canal filling the Centre Bridge to Lock 11 section in New Hope nicely.
After extensive culvert cleanouts in the southern end, the Delaware River water flowing into the Canal through the New Hope inlet filled the Canal so high that its water was overflowing the coffer dam at the Lagoon in Bristol Borough.
The key word is “filled.” The many sections that typically have had water were brimful. New to the watering scene were Smithtown, Point Pleasant, Devil’s Half Acre, and Lumberville – communities that haven’t seen consistently high water since 2004. The Canal levels from Morrisville to Bristol Borough were also uncommonly high.
Only 1-1/2 miles of dry-ish Canal prism prevented the achievement of our goal of a “fully watered Canal.” So tantalizingly close.
Then came the discovery of a leak in the Kleinhans Aqueduct, which spans Fry’s Run, seven miles south of Easton. The DNCR engineers confirmed that a previously identified issue with several of the structure’s steel beams had become an immediate problem.
Much to DCNR’s credit, it quickly moved forward with the installation of two 60″ diameter pipes and associated coffer dams that allow Canal water to continue to flow through the aqueduct structure without exacerbating the structural problem.
The amount of water coming through the pipes is impressive, but the flow volume through the aqueduct has been reduced. The use of the two pipes, rather than the full rectangular aqueduct structure, has limited the Canal flow to an amount that reached only as far as the north end of Point Pleasant. A donor paid the electricity bill for a week-long experiment to determine whether a boost from the 6,000 gallon per minute Durham pump would push water farther south. The boost seems to have produced a low level of water extending to the northern end of Lumberville, but a final determination of the effect is still in progress. The cost of operating the Durham pump is $180+ per day, so careful evaluation of cost and benefits is necessary.
The Kleinhans Aqueduct pipes are a temporary fix. Replacement or substantial repair of the aqueduct, which fortunately is the shortest one on the Canal, is the permanent solution. Replacement or repair is the only way to get a significant flow of “free” Lehigh River water flowing through Point Pleasant, Lumberville, Centre Bridge and New Hope again. DCNR has included the project in its 2016-2017 budget.
Another remedy may be the diversion of water form the Point Pleasant Pumping Station into the Canal at the southern end of the village. DCNR and DC21 have been working on an agreement with the Forest Park Water Authority to allow this diversion, which was first tried more than 15 years ago.
Now on to the Canal from New Hope to Bristol. The prolonged lack of rain has caused the Delaware River to drop below the level of the canal inlet located behind the former Odette’s in New Hope. This inlet supplies Delaware River water into the Canal and is the only significant water source for the southern 25 miles of the Canal from New Hope to Bristol. When the River drops below the inlet level, the Canal drops.
In earlier issues of Canal News, you have read about the Friends’ investigation into the installation of an Archimedes Screw pump near the inlet location. This investigation continues, but, meanwhile , the feasibility of installing at 6,000 gallon per minute centrifugal pump at the inlet location is also being pursued as a quicker fix to the need for water augmentation.
Another consequence of the dry weather is that evaporation and tree and vegetation absorption are outrunning the Centre Bridge pump’s ability to keep its section reasonably full.
The best and easiest cure for the water woes from New Hope to Bristol is moderate rainfall. Rain dances by all are most welcome.
Bi-State Construction is making good progress with the replacement of the Redfield Bridge just north of Centre Bridge. The project extended beyond its anticipated duration because the east abutment had to be replaced rather than repaired. The project’s completion will be happy news to the bikers and walkers who use this popular Centre Bridge/Lumberville/Bulls Island/Stockton/Centre Bridge canal loop trail.
Additional project updates are included in the Park Manager’s Report. For the latest information, check the Breaking News page.
The Delaware Canal does present its challenges, but we have come so far and the magnitude of the challenges continues to decrease. We always keep on trying during trying times because the glorious days of May have proven that the canal is more than worth our efforts.
Park Manager’s Report
It is truly an honor for me to be named the new Park Manager at the Delaware Canal State Park Complex. I am looking forward to working with the staff, the local communities, and multiple partners seeking to improve the park. This is an excellent opportunity , and I am looking forward to the new challenge in my career.
I began my career with the Bureau of State Parks in 1994 working as a semi-skilled laborer at Neshaminy State Park. I have held positions as a semi-skilled laborer, intern, and DCNR Ranger at several state parks and as a Park Manager trainee at the Park Region 4 Office. In 2005, I was named the Assistant Park Manager at the Hickory Run State Park Complex, and in 2007, I was named as the Park Manager of Neshaminy State Park.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Recreation from Lock Haven University and will be moving to the Pipersville area with my wife and three children.
We currently have two projects in progress – the culvert replacement on Airport Road in Bristol Township and the Redfield Bridge replacement in Solebury Township. Also, in 2016, a large wall repair will be taking place at Mile Post 21 in Upper Makefield Township. We are anticipating that the replacement of the Phillips’ Mill Bridge and Lower Limeport Bridge, both in Solebury Township, will take place later this year or early in 2017. Also in 2017, we are planning for several projects. They include the tunnel through the railroad embankment just south of Morrisville and a large capital project to replace 12 bridges and culverts along the Canal.
In New Hope, the Bureau has been developing conceptual plans for the relocation of Odette’s and the development of an enhanced visitor services area located by the old mule barge concession.
Finally, work is progressing by PADOT to improve the towpath crossing at Green Lane and Route 13 in Bristol Township. The pedestrian crossing should be completed by the end of the year.
Enjoy the Canal!
Better and Better
More than 350 people turned out this spring for the Friends’ annual Canal Clean-Up Day. Thirty-two coordinators organized coverage of all 58.9 miles of the towpath and waterway. Most of the trash picking and brush clearing took place on showery Saturday, April 2, but some Canal Tenders and other groups chose other days with Falls Township Boy Scout Troop 46 finishing off the effort on May 7.
THANK YOU ALL!
We were especially pleased to have several new coordinators step up to carry on their predecessors’ traditions of successful group clean-ups – Pam Can in New Hope Borough, Mayor Dave Rivella in Morrisville, and Ed Armstrong of GOAL (Greenbelt Overhaul Alliance of Levittown.)
The very good news is that the Canal Clean-Up Day volunteers say that they find the Canal cleaner every year. In a May 11th Letter to the Editor to the Bucks County Courier Times, Friends’ member Joe Linus of Washington Crossing wrote, “I annually volunteer to clear trash from the Delaware Canal towpath. I am always amazed at how little trash we find. This year, I and four others could not fill even half a trash bag.”
Another validation of “the cleaner the Canal is, the cleaner it stays.”
The High Work
The Locktender’s House in New Hope is a “bank building” set into the canal bank at Lock 11. It rises three stories high on its South Main Street side, and two stories up on its towpath side. This spring three slates fell from the house roof on the towpath side, and the copper gutter on the Main Street side was miserably clogged.
To the rescue came Jeffrey DeFrehn, Sr. and Jeffrey DeFrehn, Jr. of DeFrehn Roofing of Langhorne. They offered to fix the slate roof and clean the gutter at no charge because “we love historic buildings and want to help those who work to preserve them.” We are so thankful to the DeFrehns for this very necessary help. Jeffrey DeFrehn has been in the roofing business for over 40 years, and he and his team handle roofing projects from historic buildings to new construction expertly and efficiently.
Ducks, Ducks, and More Ducks
This year’s Delaware Canal Festival has evolved into a series of summer-long events.
On June 17 the Delaware Canal Festival kicked off in Historic Bristol Borough. Lagoon Park and the green at Grundy Mill were filled with people who bought their dinner at a variety of food tracks and then stayed for the fun. The local Irish folk band, The River Drivers, set the rhythm for a parade of decorated boats and paddleboard exercisers who plied the calm waters of the Lagoon. Kids and adults decorated ducks for the big contest, played games, visited the tables of community groups, and sat relaxing on a perfect summer evening.
The Delaware Canal Festival will arrive in downtown New Hope on Saturday, July 30. From noon to 4 p.m. come see plein air artists at work along the towpath, Civil War re-enactors at the Parry Mansion, and performers from the Bucks County Folk Song Society at Ferry Street Landing. There will be duck decorating at the Locktender’s House, a scavenger hunt, a guided walking tour of the Canal and an Instagram contest.
And there will be more duck decorating at the Delaware Canal Festival in Morrisville on Saturday, September 10. The State Park educators will be offering the opportunities to paddle kayaks in the Canal, and there will be plenty of good music, food, and fun, too.
Don’t miss out on the rest of the ducky Canal Festival season!
Welcome, New Friends
Paul and Roberta Butler
Michael and Alberta Duncan
David and Mindy Emerson
Sue Ann Rainey Gillen
Gale Griffiths and Laurie Sauter
J. Brian Stalter
Paul and Donna King Trenchard
Canal Walk 2016
October 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29
Break in your hiking shoes because the Friends are embarking on their 29th annual 58.0-mile-long Canal Walk this fall. Conducted over five successive Saturdays, the Walk is starting at the Forks of the Delaware in Easton and ending at Waterfront Park in Historic Bristol Borough.
Join in one or all of this year’s walks. The full Canal Walk 2016 itinerary will appear in the fall issue of Canal News and on-line at www.fodc.org. We hope that this is your year to take part in the challenge, the camaraderie, and the fun.
Memories of Canal Walks Past
“I’m thankful that I walked the entire length of the Canal back in the ’90’s. I have the stock certificate framed and hung on my bedroom wall to remind me of the thrill I had taking the walks, and I still recall them when we ride along River Road where the towpath is visible. I feel so proud and happy that I took the walks.”
Friends of the Delaware Canal member ever since her first Canal Walk
New Canal Tenders Step Up to the Task
Annette Heintz and “The Housewifes of Rolling Hills” have adopted the Uhlerstown to Lock 17 section in Tinicum Township.
Sheree Cote and Tom Lurz are taking care of the Mountainside Inn to Lock 12 section in Plumstead and Solebury Townships.
Monica Hemmers and Steve Heimann are back at work on the Lock 12 to Virginia Forest Recreation Area section in Solebury Township.
Ricki Fisher is covering the Rabbit Run Bridge to Bridge Street section in New Hope.
The work of our Canal Tenders truly makes a difference, and we’re grateful to have these new volunteers. We also thank the people who have taken care of these areas in the past – Joe Cloran, Sally Getchell, Nan Kirstein, and Bill Rorer.
You can be a Canal Tender, too!
Here are the sections of the Canal that need adoption:
- Railroad Obstruction to Tyburn Road (Morrisville to Falls Township) – 1.1 miles
- Tyburn Road to Wheatsheaf Road (Falls Township) – .6 mile
- Levittown Shopping Center to Green Lane (Bristol Township) – 1.9 miles
- Green Lane to the Bristol Lagon (Bristol Borough) – 1 mile
- Beaver Street to Riverfront Park (Bristol Borough) – .8 mile.
Only 5.9 miles of the Canal’s 58.9 mile length remain orphans – just 10%. Please help to bring our orphan rate down to 9%.