Recent attention to dam safety issues throughout Massachusetts and the rest of New England has generated increased interest in dam removal. Dam removal not only addresses the issues associated with dam safety through the elimination of the hazard, but also provides significant ecological benefits. Dam removal restores the ecological systems previously disrupted by the erection of the dam through reestablishing habitat connectivity, improving stream continuity, and increasing habitat diversity. The restoration of natural ecological systems results in an overall improvement to water quality including increased dissolved oxygen and lower water temperatures. While we believe that a properly maintained dam actually decreases downstream flooding, the ecological benefits are indisputable.
In 2005, PARE provided emergency response services to the owners of the Whittenton Dam in Taunton, Massachusetts as they responded to unsafe conditions at their dam following unprecedented rainfall in the area. After years of coordination and planning, completion of the dam removal and stream restoration project is complete, as presented in a recent issue of ecoRI News. While PARE did not participate in this restoration project, we are actively removing a dam in Lancaster, Massachusetts, as well as assisting other dam owners to pursue funding to facilitate their dam removal projects.