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Rain clouds gathering over downtown Pittsburgh. (Photo by Teake Zuidema/PublicSource)

Toman has a 40-year career under his belt with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Today, he’s the resource manager for the Loyalhanna Dam and reservoir. He knows that 975 feet above mean sea level, the level at which the water would overtop the dam, has never been reached in the 75 years since the dam was built.

“We had a record high pool here in 1972 with Hurricane Agnes,” Toman said. At that point, he added, the water was still 16 feet below the crest of the dam. “We really don’t know what happens when the water reaches 975 feet. The dam has never been tested to its maximum.”

Yet climate change is poised to create unprecedented transformations in precipitation, stream flows and temperature, likely to test the resilience of the system of 16 dams and reservoirs operated by the Pittsburgh district of the corps, which includes the Loyalhanna Dam.



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