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First Cast Fly Fishing 10-01-2013 07:37 AM

Lamprey River, Dam Removal?
The Lamprey River is being drawn down today to study the dam's condition. It could be removed, reconfigured, or repaired. The final consultant report will come in April, 2014. FYI

Question: Do we need this dam and the other dams located on the NH seacoast? This question along with the on-going issues with waste-water treatment facilities is very important for our communities/fisheries.

The McCallen dam is located in downtown Newmarket (mills).

This is a bit old, but it might help people understand what the issues are ;

truiteman 10-01-2013 07:42 AM

Get rid of that dam. It is useless and a barrier to all of the anadromous fish. TU has access to quite a bit of NOAA funding to help with the removal. Get with your Chapter and get an Embrace a stream grant started so that you have data to combat the folks who don't like change.


PS: See if the Marine Biology Dept at UNH will help you with this project. They receive all kinds of NOAA funding as well.

plecain 10-01-2013 08:10 AM

Which one(s)
Which dam or dams are we talking about here?

The Lamprey has lots of dams, all along its length.

Hextall 10-01-2013 08:50 AM

I'm on the Dam Steering committee for the town of Newmarket. Here's the reason that the dam is being looked at for possible removal and what's going on

The state inspected the dam several years ago, and found deficiencies that threaten its stability during various floods (like a 100-year event). So they, along with a hiredd engineering company, deteremined the dam needs fixing. In addition, based on state dam safety regulations, it'll need significant work to the structure for the current capacity.

A few years ago, there was a citizen's petition that put a warrant article to pay for a feasibilty study to determine the costs and impacts of removing the dam in downtown Newmarket (the one behind the refurbished mills). This article passed (although the funds were reduced at the deliberative session to around $40k). After a couple of years, the town council decided to form a Dam Steering committee to manage the hiring of a consultant to perform the feasibility study.

Newmarket was able to secure some additional funding from NOAA (and another source) to do the study, and after some issues with the warrant article funds, we finally were able to hire Gomez & Sullivan within the last month to do several tasks from the feasibility study. There is not enough funding to do all the tasks, but some of them aren't critical to understanding the costs of removing the dam.

There is a fish ladder current at the dam, and from what I know, there are anadromous fish that use it. So the dam isn't a complete barrier to fish migration... but it is an impediment.

The ultimate fate of the dam (in my opinion) is going to come down to whether Newmarket will be willing to pay for the repair to keep the dam (up to several millions of dollars) or whether they'll vote to remove it. The latter option has the benefit that there is several avenues for funding that won't come directly through Newmarket taxpayers. Unfortunately, I don't think the ecosystem and or the impoundment's use for recreation will be the major driving force when the residents decide what to do.

Another wrinkle is that there are properties in Durham along the river and will be affected by any changes to the impoundment... including the boat house (on Rt. 108 ) that I believe the UNH crew team uses (I'm probably wrong about that though). The owners of the boat house have been to several public meetings and have hinted of the possibilities of lawsuits if the dam is removed (there's a lawyer on our committee, and he's basically said there is virtually no way they can win based on previous decisions about dams in the state). In addition, Rt. 108 will be worked on by the DOT soon, and there's a hydraulic connection via a culvert that discharges some water to the Oyster River watershed. What's unknown is how much water will be diverted with a new culvert... and will this have any significant effect on what Newmarket will have to do to repair the dam. The DOT isn't all that forthcoming with their plan up to this point (although, up to this point it has not been the most respected dam engineering companies (Gomez and Sullivan) in the NE asking).

The original post asked, "Do we need this dam?" I don't think we necessarily need this dam (there is no longer any industrial function of the dam, and it currently isn't used for flood control), but for the many people who have come to the public comments, they certainly want don't want the dam removed (coincidentally, many of these people are very vocal about reducing taxes, so I'm not sure they realize the financial impact of their desires). The reasoning is cultural (they believe the dam gives the town some character), recreational (many believe that there is significant paddling going on in the impoundment) and financial (I think people worry about a significant reduction in property value along the river, and how that'll impact taxes for everyone). Also... as alluded to above, people just don't like change.

I've been a bit out of the loop for the past month or so when things have really kicked off, but the near term work is for the drawdown to inspect the structure, a bathymetry study as well as water level loggers being installed.

Editted to add: My personal view is that I really don't care if the dam stays or goes... there are costs and benefits to both options that for me, don't outweigh the other. I use that section of the river to canoe and kayak... I also would love more access for fish migration and would think there's a possibilty for more trout habitat to open up.

Hextall 10-01-2013 09:12 AM

If anyone is interested, here's a recent presentation from Gomez & Sullivan on the need for the work, the options available (what does repair mean?), and what G&S will be doing in this phase.

Hextall 10-01-2013 09:33 AM

One more thing to add...

The government officials that are helping us out (NOAA, DES, F&G) have said that this is the first time they are part of a study to look at removing a dam that has so much recreational use and has so many abutting properties.

So public input is going to be very important.

truiteman 10-02-2013 07:16 AM

Hi Hextall!

Welcome to the world of dam removal. It is a slog as people don't want change. It is very important to do temperature monitoring to show what the thermal pollution the dam causes and adds to the Global warming on this planet.

Folks also don't realize the financial impact of having to pay for the dam and fish ladder to be brought up to specifications. And as you said, there is plenty of grant money available to remove the dam.

The boating club will sue. Lawyers are members and will do everything in the book to try and wear the town, with limited resources, down. Make sure that the names of those who are adding to the tax burden by making the town defend a frivilous law suit are in all the press releases. Bad press isn't wanted by anyone.

If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.


Redneck_Flashaboo 10-02-2013 08:03 AM

In the Fosters yesterday there was a article about this. It seems the majority of the people fighting the removal are from the town of Durham. At one point during the town meeting in newmarket one fellow remarked(I don't have the paper anymore but it went like this) "If you folks in durham want to keep the dam so much, then maybe you should help the town of newmarket financially with its upkeep"

I'm sure the crickets could be heard from the durham corner after that statement.....

Steve H. 10-02-2013 10:03 AM

I attended several meetings involving the hopeful removal of the Mill Pond Dam (Oyster River) in Durham. Those folks in Durham are tenacious, to say the least. But you're right, people don't like change regardless of the data. I guess they just like to look at their weedy old pond and the swans that call it home.

Hextall 10-02-2013 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by truiteman (Post 76039)
The boating club will sue.

From what I understand of the relevant case law, upstream property owners have no right to dictate to downstream property owners the flows or amount of water in an impoundment, as long as the flow or amount of water is at or more than the low-mark natural level (i.e. without the dam).

Basically, people cannot dictate how much water a dam owner must keep in an impoundment. So if someone sues, all they'll be doing is trying to basically blackmail Newmarket to keep the dam via legal fees because any lawsuit they take will likely be lost.

So the dam's fate likely will come down to whether Newmarket wants to pay for repairs, or to defend a lawsuit they'll win. Considering the costs to repair the dam ranges from 1.1 to 4+ million dollars... and that funding to remove the dam will come from non-Newmarket wallets... I predict that...

Oh hell... Newmarket will do what it always does and kick the can down the road. Nothing is going to happen to the dam for I bet 2 decades.

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