Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Whittenton Dam Removal on the Mill River

Another dam has gone from the Mill River in Taunton, leaving the Reed & Barton dam as the only impediment to fish passage on the river. A new fish ladder has been constructed at Lake Sabbatia which will allow fish access to over 30 miles of habitat in the upper watershed. This dam is special because it was the catalyst for much of the recent discussion of dam safety, dam removal and floodplain restoration in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Our efforts in Rhode Island to have better disclosure of dam safety and increased dam inspections have come from our experience in Taunton. You can see much more about the project on the Mill River Restoration blog.

This recent coverage of the project from ABC6 news also shows the history of this dam and the importance of the restoration. The dam came out relatively quickly this week, and the entire project should be completed by September. Next year's removal of the Reed & Barton dam will see the project come full circle and will allow fish full access to the entire river corridor.

Removal of the Hopewell Mill dam last August was very successful and the river is beginning to take shape.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kenyon Mill Fish Passage

The Kenyon Mill fish passage project on the Pawcatuck River is getting underway this month, and will be complete by the end of the year. This project is the last in a series of three projects on the upper Pawcatuck River that will ultimately restore passage for fish up to Worden's Pond. The Shannock Falls dam was removed in 2010, and the Horseshoe Falls dam in Shannock Village had a fish ladder constructed in 2011.
This fish ladder also has an eelway that will assist young American eels with their ascent over this dam.

Together, these projects will open up access to 10 miles of river and 1,300 acres of additional habitat. The Kenyon Mill project involves the removal of an old dam and the creation of rock weirs that will allow fish to swim over the obstruction but will maintain water levels for fire suppression. Kenyon Industries is an active manufacturer on the river, and relies on the water supply.

The project will start with removal of the original structure and then creation of the rock weirs. These projects are an important part of habitat restoration in the Wood-Pawcatuck River watershed, which provides rare and pristine habitats and supports many different species of wildlife. Project partners include the NOAA Restoration Center, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, Town of Richmond, RI CRMC and RI DEM. Partial funding came from the ARRA federal stimulus package. Save The Bay supported this project through our partnership with Restore America's Estuaries and NOAA. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Celebrating the Roger Williams Park Restoration Project

Community members and project partners gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony today near Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park. The gathering celebrated the completion of the first stormwater projects in the park, and the establishment of a walking trail behind the carousel. Volunteers who helped plant the rain gardens were given citations from the Mayor, and Governor was on hand to help cut the ribbon.

We all know of Roger Williams Park in Providence as that urban gem that hosts the zoo, the carousel and botanical garden, as well as the seven man-made ponds that meander through the watershed. The ponds in the park were constructed in the 1880’s and 1890’s, at the southern end of the growing city. At that time, the population of the city was smaller and development less dense. As development grew in the neighborhoods surrounding the park, stormwater was directed to the park ponds. Park roads and parking lots also drained directly to the ponds.

If you ever visited the park on a nice weekend, you know that a favorite activity has been feeding the geese. These geese grew in number and became very unhealthy as they relied more and more on human “junk food”. Despite efforts to curb their numbers and to instruct visitors not to feed the geese, their waste has been very bad for water quality. This source of nutrients is added to the additional impacts from road and other surface runoff, resulting in algae blooms that close the ponds to recreation.

The Roger Williams Park Restoration project has begun to change this situation. Engineers examined the park for areas where stormwater could be intercepted before reaching the ponds. About 30 spots were investigated, and five sites were chosen for retrofit projects. Other suggested actions include removal of curbing along park roads and disconnecting building downspouts.  Save The Bay has helped to organize volunteers for planting in the new raingardens located at three sites along the ponds. A group from Amgen helped out during the City’s Earth Day event, and planting has continued through the spring. A master plan for the park restoration will provide a list of other ideas to continue work, and a new group, the Roger Williams Park Conservancy, is being formed to take on the restoration effort.