Water conservation

Core Creek Park’s Lake Luxembourg will be lowered as the conservation pool is drained

Fishing and boating on Lake Luxembourg could be hampered this summer by Bucks County Conservation District plans to improve water quality in the lake at Core Creek Park.

“For diehards who don’t mind a bit of mud,” the lake in Middletown County Park should still be usable for outdoor activities for most of the season. But “if there are safety concerns,” recreational activities may have to be canceled, said Conservation District watershed specialist Karen Ogden.

The Conservation District will hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. Monday at Pavilion 11 in the park to explain how it will drain the 17-acre Conservation Pool on the east side of the Woodbourne Road bridge over the lake, reducing the overall depth of the lake by 3.5 feet. It does this to remove about 15,000 cubic meters of sediment that has accumulated there over the years since the 174-acre man-made lake was built in 1977 to serve as a reservoir for Core Creek.

This phase of the project will take place between July and December, with water levels expected to return to normal in January 2023.

“The project is designed to reduce suspended solids and nutrient pollution entering the body of Lake Luxembourg. The desired outcome is improved water clarity, less frequent algae blooms and an overall improvement in ecosystem of the lake,” conservation district staff explained on its website.

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The Conservation District, headquartered in the township of New Britain, provides for “the wise use, management and development of the soil, water and allied natural resources of the county”. indicates its website. It was formed in 1961, as one of 66 in Pennsylvania and 3,000 across the United States. The first conservation districts were formed to deal with the drought of the 1930s that covered 75% of the country with dust bowls.

Conservation District Manager Gretchen Schatschneider explained at the Bucks County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday that when Lake Luxembourg was created, the conservation basin was not expected to fill with sediment for 100 years, but at the time where the lake was nine years old, the conservation basin was already filled in, due to the development of terracing in the surrounding countryside.

Since then, the county has worked with other organizations to secure funds to clean up the lake which acts as a reservoir for water from Core Creek flowing in and out on its way to the larger Neshaminy Creek.

A view of the Conservation Pool at Lake Luxenbourg, looking towards the Woodbourne Road Bridge in Middletown.  The pool should be drained this summer to remove years of sediment that is affecting the water quality of the lake.

Commissioner Diane Ellis Marseglia, who was a former Middletown supervisor, said the project had been “long in coming and very much needed”, while Commissioner Chairman Bob Harvie thanked the Conservation District for all the work it took to prepare for it.

A nesting red-bellied cooter hides in the wetland near Lake Luxembourg in Middletown.
Rufous-bellied cooter hatchlings are a protected species in Pennsylvania.  The Bucks County Conservation District is taking action to protect them and other wildlife as it drains a conservation pool at Lake Luxembourg this summer.
A red-eared slider approaches the fence protecting it and other nesting turtles from injury when the Lake Luxembourg Conservation Pool in Middletown is drained of sediment this summer.

The two-year project will cost $2.1 million and is being funded by Bucks County, which will contribute $784,000 as well as grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

As part of the project, Conservation District staff constructed a fence to trap nesting “Red Bellied Cooters” and other turtles so they could be resettled away from the work area. “We make sure they get to where they need to go and we prevent nesting females from laying eggs where they could be damaged by heavy equipment,” Ogden said.

The sediment will be used to enrich county-owned agricultural fields leased to a farmer. The project will also create seven acres of wildlife wetlands near the conservation pool. It will have to wait until October 2023 to finish in part because there will be time to allow the bald eagles to nest without being disturbed by the works. And Conservation District staff also anticipate there could be storms that could cause delays.

File - A woman walks to Lake Luxembourg at Core Creek Park in Middletown.