MARSHFIELD — Authorities say the Winooski River will soon be cleaner and fish populations will increase after the removal of a dam in Marshfield.
The dam removal started Monday and finished Tuesday afternoon. Some smaller parts of the project, such as stabilizing a bank upstream of the dam, are expected to take until early September.
The 80-foot-long, 12-foot-high dam had been used for hydro power when it was built in the early 1960s but had fallen into disrepair and needed to be fixed or removed to prevent it from failing and causing damage to properties downstream.
“(The dam) wasn’t providing any benefit and it wasn’t going to provide any benefit, so the best option, and quite frankly the least expensive option, was to remove it,” said Brian Fitzgerald of the Department of Environmental Conservation, part of the state Agency of Natural Resources.
The dam, built of stone and concrete, was broken up with a hydraulic hammer attached to an excavator. The water in the river was still flowing at the time of the dam’s destruction, and those in charge of its removal set up a platform below the dam with culverts to allow water to flow while removing the chunks of the dam that were broken off.
Fitzgerald said he was asked by Ben Heintz, the owner of the land the dam sits on, to remove the dam a few years ago because Heintz was concerned about the legal liability of owning a dilapidated dam and the possibility of it failing after a storm such as Tropical Storm Irene last year.
Fitzgerald said Heintz did look into restoring the dam for hydro power. But Fitzgerald said that in his experience, small dams do not produce enough electricity to equal the money needed to build them.
The dam did not provide any flood control benefits, Fitzgerald said, but the dam did cause the river to rise upstream during the spring with winter runoff and blocked fish from traveling the river, it also piled up sediments upstream of the dam.
For the complete story, see Wednesday's Times Argus.MORE IN This Just In
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