Canonsburg Lake was created in 1943 when ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) built a concrete dam on Little Chartiers Creek to create a freshwater reservoir for the Canonsburg Forging Plant. In 1957, ALCOA donated the lake to the Commonwealth of PA and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) converted it from an industrial reservoir to a recreational lake. The lake property includes the 76 acre lake, 525 x 45 x 18 ft dam, and 62 additional associated acres. Both manual and electric boats are permitted, and the lake is stocked with two species (trout and channel cat), but contains 15+ species of fish, including a significant number of bass.
In 1998, Debra Valentino saw the ducks and geese walking on the lake and began an inquiry into how to save the lake. She worked with other concerned residents to circulate a petition to restore the lake to its original contours. With over 3000 signatures, she made the trip to the state capital to present the petition to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision (PFBC) along with pictures of the Lake’s current condition, letters of support from both townships, the county commissioners, our state senator and representatives and testimonials from fishermen, boaters, birders, as well as other residents who valued the lake and who like you, feared that without intervention, the lake would continue to decline and the surrounding community and the entire SW PA would lose a valuable regional asset.
The Save Canonsburg Lake committee was formed as the Canonsburg Lake Restoration & Improvement Committee (CLRIC) with interested parties and representatives from Peters, N. Strabane, the WCC District, the Chartiers Creek Watershed, PFBC, and Department of Conservation and Naturatl Resources (DCNR). Our first task to develop a master site plan with a $40,000 grant from DCNR.
In 2007, courtesy of a Growing Greener Funds grant from DCNR, we completed a major site plan detailing intended improvements to the Lake including walking trails, picnic areas, 2nd boat launch, restrooms, improved lighting and parking, and a Wetlands Interpretation Center to be realized once the Lake is “Saved.”
We purchased benches, installed a pedestrian bridge with the efforts of an Eagle Scout, installed informational kiosks at both ends of the lake, and created a perennial flower garden with the efforts of the Girl Scouts.
In 2012, Canonsburg Lake Dam was stabilized and brought up to code at a cost of approximately $3 million as a result of maintained pressure by the public on local representatives. Once the Dam was stabilized, attention shifted to additional improvements necessary for the Lake.
It was taken off the DEPs list of high hazard dams through the maintained pressure of the Lake committee and the public on local and State representatives.
In 2014, the townships and our county commissioners supported efforts to identify a company to construct a weir to catch upstream sediment and debris. This is an essential next step before any dredging can begin. The scope of the work involved creating an access road on the North Strabane side of the Lake for the PFBC and the contractor to mobilize equipment they would need. Bids were solicited and the firm to complete the work was selected. The work was completed in 2016 at a cost of $2 million. Unfortunately funds appropriated for the work were inadequate to allow for any dredging.
The weir and access road projects were completed. The access road now opened up a new area for the public to walk to the lake for recreational opportunities, and a place for kayakers to stop for R and R.
The CLRIC formed as the Canonsburg Lake Restoration and Improvement Association, and application for our own non-profit 501-c-3 began.
We are continuing our efforts to raise awareness and funding to dredge portions of the lake to improve aquatic habitat and increase recreational opportunities for the public.
Do you have special memories from times spent at Canonsburg Lake? We'd love to hear from you. Maintaining a history of our beautiful lake is important to us. Please send us your stories.