Could the dam be repaired or partially removed?

There is no owner willing to assume responsibility of the costs of repairing the dam, and the Town of Westerly does not have funds available for repairing the dam, nor does the town want to be responsible for the liability of a failing structure that is a public safety hazard. Federal funds secured by the town are only eligible for removing this barrier to migratory fish passage. The project partners are focused on dam removal as the preferred alternative to address the purpose of the project to restore unimpeded fish passage, reduce flood risk, and eliminate a public safety hazard.

Repairing the dam would also not adequately address any of the ecological concerns previously mentioned. Continual maintenance of the dam would be needed, and the town does not have the financial resources or staff capacity for on-going dam operation, maintenance and repairs.

Partial removal of the dam would require other in-river structures to provide hydraulics needed for efficient fish passage, would require future maintenance, and would also require a design to minimize public safety hazards associated with recreational boating. Substantial regulatory challenges, particularly filling of river channel and floodplain, would be associated with a partial dam removal with in-river nature-like fishway (NLF) alternative, as well.

With the preferred approach, no future operation, maintenance, or repairs will be required, and funds are available for dam removal.

Show All Answers

1. Why is the dam being removed?
2. Could the dam be repaired or partially removed?
3. Could a design similar to that of the Bradford fish passage project be used for the Potter Hill project?
4. What alternative designs have been considered and why was the proposed design selected?
5. What safety hazards are associated with the mill and dam structures?
6. How will removing the dam affect water levels in the river?
7. Will my household well be affected?
8. Many properties along the Pawcatuck River have private drinking water wells, especially on the Hopkinton side of the river. How many homeowners’ wells could be affected by the predicted drop
9. Will Westerly’s municipal water wells adjacent to the Pawcatuck River be affected?
10. How will removing the dam reduce flood risk to upstream and downstream properties? Will larger flood events (i.e., the 500-year recurrence flood) be worse upstream or downstream following dam removal?
11. Will removal of the dam cause increased flooding to downstream areas, including downtown Westerly?
12. How will removing the defunct dam and mill affect public access to and uses of the river?
13. How will removing the dam affect fish and wildlife?
14. How will removing the dam affect wetland systems upstream of the dam?
15. Is the proposed design accounting for climate change projections and worst-case future hydrologic scenarios?
16. Who is the project team?
17. What are the next steps?
18. Where can I get more information on the project?