This section of the LCFA site will contain facts and figures pertaining to Francis E Walter and the Lehigh River Watershed. Please check back often as we will be updating.


March 1, 2011



View Lehigh River Access Points in a larger map


August 10, 2009

Walter stratification data through the end of July. The Corps collects this data all summer long.

May 10, 2009

The LRSA now has a water quality probe in the Jim Thorpe area of the Lehigh, transmitting real-time data. Follow the link, and read directions on how to log-on.

The LRSA is definitely a worth while organization to support. Not only do they plant a lot of fish throughout the Lehigh, but they are also gathering and providing, a lot of great data free of cost. Some of which is being utlized in the Sec. 22 - Coldwater Modeling Study.

September 7, 2008

Three years of lake stratification data.


February 5, 2008

Rule Curve for 2008


February 4, 2008

Francis E Walter Significant Storage Events and Reference Chart

The chart below shows impoundment data and significant storage events.

View PDF version


January 27, 2007



2006 Francis E Walter Lake Stratification (added October 2006)

2006 Francis E Walter Lake Stratification Explained

Pictured above are the water temperature readings collected at various depths in the Francis E Walter Reservoir (FEW). Personnel from the Philadelphia District of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) collect this data on a monthly basis during the spring, summer and fall.

The information presented in the graph pasted above shows the water temperature at 5' increments at various times during the summer season. During the months of May and June there is a significant amount of coldwater in the FEW. What is considered cold water? Less than 68 Deg Fahrenheit (20c). Except for the May 22nd sampling event, there is a sharp drop in water temperature located at approximately 20'below the lake's surface. This drop in temperature is the development of the thermocline (def. - A layer in a large body of water, such as a lake, that sharply separates regions differing in temperature, so that the temperature gradient across the layer is abrupt.).

The water below the thermocline, known as the hypolimnion, is the region of water that must be sustained, preserved, and gradually released throughout the summer months (approx. 70 days) in order to enhance the wild trout fishery.

Now, take a look at the water temperatures after the June 23rd sampling event. All the coldwater (below 68 Deg F) that was previously present in FEW is gone. Where did it all go??

If you recall, last year at the end of June, our region faced an historic flooding event. FEW filled to 85% of the total flood storage capacity. In accordance with the operations mandate, the Corps was required to release most of the stored water (70% of storage) that was held back to minimize flood damage down river. When the Corps released the water, the largest gates located on the bottom of the lake were utilized to discharge the water at a rate of approximately 8,000cfs. This large blow-out release from the depths of FEW caused the depletion of the coldwater pool. Basically, all the coldwater went down into the Delaware Bay.

As you can see, in order to conserve and preserve this coldwater in FEW, there mostly likely will need to be modifications to the discharge control tower. A likely fix will be to retrofit the tower with a port at a higher elevation on the control tower that is capable of releasing the warmer water from the top of the lake rather than colder water off the bottom. This will help to sustain the coldwater pool. But the Corps can't just do this without doing an in-depth and detailed analysis of the tower and what releases might look like with tower modifications. To do this, the Coldwater Study must be completed.


2006 & 2007 Flow Plan Rule Curve (the 2006 Curve was adopted for 2007)

2006 Rule Curve Explained

We have received many questions on how to interpret the Army Corps "Rule Curve" that has been established for this years Flow Management Plan.

For starters, dam operators often use rule curves as a tool to regulate water releases and flows in rivers downstream from a dam.

The lake level behind the Francis E Walter Reservoir is to be raised to an elevation of 1,365' feet above sea level. From May to June there is a restriction on lake level fluctuation by 5 feet. Meaning the lake will not fluctuate more than five feet during this time. This is indicated on the Rule Curve where the "May-June Operating Zone" is indicated on the graph. This restriction is to protect spawning warmwater species in the lake and conserve the coldwater pool in the lake to the extent practical.

The light blue shaded area to the left of the colored lines represents the anticipated amount of storage available in the lake at certain dates. The colored lines represent lake levels at certain times of year. In addition, these colored lines also are used to determine the amount of water to be released from the lake based on inflow and amount of water that is currently stored in the lake. The Corps uses the term Augmentation to illustrate that there will be an intended increase in flow in the Lehigh this summer. The amount of augmentation again depends on the amount of water that is available and inflow to the lake.

To determine the amount of augmentation, the numbers at the bottom of the graph next to the colored dashes determine how much water is going to be released. If you look at the 50/600 numbers, the first number (50) indicates the amount of augmentation that will occur above inflow during non-whitewater release weekends. The second number is the amount of augmentation during whitewater release weekends. So during the week or non-whitewater weekends, if the lake level is at the black line on July 24th, the amount of augmentation above inflow will be 50 cubic feet per second (CFS). So if we have 300 CFS coming into the lake, there should be a 350 CFS release.

However, if the lake is below 1,365' elevation, the amount of flow augmentation will not exceed 250 CFS. For example, if inflow is 220 CFS on July 24th, the flow augmentation will be 30 CFS. If inflow is 300 CFS and the lake is below 1365, the release will remain at 250 CFS until the lake level rises to the next colored line or back up to the 1365 feet elevation, so the Corps will be storing the extra 50 CFS into the lake.

Is this rule curve perfect, the answer is NO. There are some things we think the Corps should consider. If you think about it, the 250 CFS maximum water release limitation is almost as though they are robbing Peter to pay Paul. However, is this a good start and attempt in managing the water….by all means, YES! Will things be changed for the better, you better believe it. The Corps has been very cooperative and in fact they want to learn how to better manage this reservoir as they no have the opportunity to do so.

For questions on this, please send us an email.


Francis E Walter Stratification - 2002 v 2005

This graphic shows a comparison of water temperatures recorded for the month of June at Tannery during the years of 2002 and 2005.  Tannery is located approximately 6 miles below the FEW.  In 2002 the Army Corps raised the lake elevation by 92 feet (1392 ft above sea level) above normal pool elevation for low flow augmentation to push back the salt line in the Delaware River at Trenton.  In 2005, the Corps raised the lake by 35 feet (1335 ft above sea level) for recreational enhancement purposes.

Both years had similar weather conditions, HOT & DRY.   The water temperatures for 2002 remained relatively cool.  For most part below 20 Deg C (or 68 Deg F) as water was being discharged off the bottom of the lake.  In 2005, water temperatures were typcially above 20 Deg C.  In addition, water was being discharged at two locations in the lake water column.  Water was being discharged through the bottom release gates and a set of by-pass gates located at elevation 1297 feet, approximately 45 feet off the bottom of the lake.  On June 14, 2005 (see red circle area), the Lehigh River saw its first EVER designated coldwater release.  For a period following June 14th, water temperatures remained relatively cool and below 20 Deg C. 

What this shows us is that if greater quauntities of water can be stored in the reservoir a coldwater release is possible.  The recent operation of the by-pass gates can now isolate the coldest water in the lake which may be retained until needed to reduce the water temps on the river.   The Study that is required to be conducted by the Corps on FEW will investigate optimal uses of both the bottom release and by-pass gates and if there are any additional modificiations necessary in order to maintain the recommended release of water at 55 Deg F.



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