MA Issues Status of 2014 Dam Removal Projects

Photo/Tidmarsh Farms, Manomet, MA
Photo/Tidmarsh Farms, Manomet, MA

The following information on the status of current waterway restoration projects in Massachusetts was provided by the Mass. Department of Fish  & Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER):

Town Brook, Plymouth:

Despite bitter cold temperatures, and almost weekly snowfall, work associated with the removal of the Off Billington Street Dam from Plymouth’s Town Brook has been chugging along all winter. The dam itself was demolished in November. Since then, construction crews have erected a new bridge to serve residents accessing their homes from Billington Street. The new bridge is built to meet Massachusetts’ Stream Crossing Standards, and it will carry new water and sewer lines across the Brook. This month (February), workers began construction of the new channel through the former impoundment, after removing tons of contaminated sediment. Work will continue through spring, with final planting anticipated in May.

Nissitissit River, Pepperell:

The DER is working with many partners toward removal of the Millie Turner Dam for the benefit of people, fish, and wildlife. Preliminary engineering design is now underway, with Gomez and Sullivan Engineers working on hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and developing our draft plan set. The modeling work will help the project team consider the size of the breach in the 110’ long primary spillway that is needed to pass flood flows. Historical preservation efforts are part of the project, and we hope to save and preserve portions of the stone raceways, along with other steps to enhance future visitor experience and understanding of the site.

Kinne Brook, Chester:

Permitting is now complete for the Stroud Dam removal along beautiful Kinne Brook, in the Westfield River Watershed. DER is partnering in this effort with numerous organizations, including Trout Unlimited, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and American Rivers. Funding is in place, and the engineering designs are in the final review stage with the NRCS, which is funding the project. Like the Wekepeke Brook project, this dam removal does not include any channel construction. Instead, the stream will carry the small amount of sand and gravel behind the dam downstream over time, while forming a new channel. Late-April or early-May start date.

Wekepeke Brook, Lancaster:

The town of Lancaster has completed a public bidding process and selected Kaszowski Brothers of Charlton to perform removal of the Bartlett Pond Dam. The Town was selected to receive a no-interest loan to help complete the project, and along with a grant from DER ($30k), appears poised to implement the project.

Removal of the dam will open up 18 miles of upstream habitat in Wekepeke Brook and tributaries, including areas mapped as BioMap Core habitat. The stream supports a native brook trout population. The project involves “in-stream sediment management”, which will allow the upstream channel to shape itself over time in a natural manner. Improvements to the adjacent Frommer Conservation Area will also be performed over several years.

Tidmarsh Farms/Beaver Dam Brook, Plymouth:

As planned, the Tidmarsh Farms project will restore approximately 250 acres of freshwater wetlands and 3.5 miles of stream channel across a large retired cranberry farm. This is one of the largest wetland restoration projects ever undertaken in Massachusetts, and includes 2 dam removals, about 100,000 cubic yards of earthwork, and installation of 50,000+ plants.

After an extremely detailed assessment and design phase (2010-2014), the project is now ready to formally begin permitting.  An Expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) was submitted in January 2014 to begin regulatory and public consultation via the MEPA process. A project overview was presented to the Plymouth Conservation Commission on February 25 in advance of permit application submittal.  Consultations with the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Mass DEP, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have also been taking place as a precursor to permit applications.