How will removing the defunct dam and mill affect public access to and uses of the river?

Removing the dam will improve the long-term ecological health and resiliency of the river and enhance recreational opportunities such as kayaking and fishing. The river is used for kayaking, paddling, canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing. By prioritizing the health of the river as a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the project partners expect recreational opportunities will continue to be available to the public and improve water-based recreational values. Most of the restored river reach is expected to remain as “flat water”, although water quality improvements (lower seasonal water temperatures and higher dissolved oxygen levels) and unimpeded passage by migratory and resident fish with a removed dam will improve water quality and recreational fishing.

Removal of the dam will also improve the safety of water recreation in the vicinity of the dam, and provide eco-tourism opportunities to both Hopkinton and Westerly. Canoeists and kayakers will be able to float down the lower river, and depending on the final design that is implemented for the dam removal site, some may readily pass the restoration area and continue downriver to downtown Westerly and tidal waters.

Removing the dam will substantially lessen public safety hazards at the dam site where accidents have occurred, and restored conditions should lessen canoe portages across Potter Hill Road and public safety issues to bypass the dam. Optimally, the mill site may become a future public access site.

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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?