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Dam Removal in Rhode Island: Present and Future David Chopy, DEM July 16, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Dam Removal in Rhode Island: Present and Future David Chopy, DEM July 16, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dam Removal in Rhode Island: Present and Future David Chopy, DEM July 16, 2009

2 State’s Role Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Dam Safety responsible for regulatory oversight of inspections, construction, maintenance and repair of all dams in RI (including issuance of permits) DEM Dam Safety also provides assistance and guidance to dam owners, which includes inspections of dams and completion of engineering reports and studies DEM and Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) responsible for issuance of permits involving substantial alteration or removal of dams

3 Dam Safety Regulations Rules and Regulations for Dam Safety –Promulgated on December 20, 2007 –Include definitions and revised hazard classifications for dams throughout the State –Emphasis placed on high and significant hazard dams, including inspection and permitting requirements

4 Dam Safety Regulations Key Definitions Dam-any barrier made by humans that impounds or diverts water Regulated dam –a low hazard dam that is 6 feet or more in height –a low hazard dam that has 15 acre feet or more of storage capacity –a high hazard dam –a significant hazard dam

5 Dam Safety Regulations Key Definitions Substantial alteration - any physical modification that results in a permanent change in the water elevation or in water flow downstream Removal - destruction or breaching of a dam to the extent that the dam no longer impounds or diverts water

6 Dam Safety Regulations Hazard Classifications The hazard classification is based on the potential for harm caused by failure – each dam is classified as high, significant, or low No relationship between the hazard classification and current condition of the dam

7 Dam Safety Regulations High Hazard – means a dam where failure or misoperation will result in a probable loss of human life.

8 Dam Safety Regulations Significant Hazard – means a dam where failure or misoperation results in no probable loss of human life but can cause major economic loss, disruption of lifeline facilities or impact other concerns detrimental to the public’s health, safety or welfare. Examples of major economic loss include washout of a state or federal highway, washout of two or more municipal roads, loss of vehicular access to residences, (e.g. a dead end road whereby emergency personnel could no longer access residences beyond the washout area) or damage to a few structures

9 Dam Safety Regulations Low Hazard – means a dam where failure or misoperation results probable loss of human life and low economic losses.

10 State Inventory 671 dams in active State inventory 97 dams classified high hazard 83 dams classified significant hazard 491 dams classified low hazard

11 Freshwater Wetland Permitting Substantial alteration or removal of dams regulated by DEM Freshwater Wetlands Program or CRMC Submission of Formal Application to Alter a Freshwater Wetland Application fee required Issues of Concern –Potential impacts to downstream flooding –Sediment contamination –Value of current versus proposed wetland habitat –Potential impact from invasive species –Potential impact to recreational users

12 Freshwater Wetland Permitting Fees for Formal Application to Alter –Wetland restoration: $300 –Dam removal: $750 –Substantial alteration: $ $200/acre impoundment

13 Recent Regulatory Change DEM Freshwater Wetland Regulation amended June 2009 Purpose is to streamline the permitting process by exempting applicants from the requirement of obtaining written notarized authorization from the other owners of property within which freshwater wetlands will be directly altered as a result of the project. The amendment pertains to only partial or full dam removal projects that are proposed for the purpose of habitat improvement, restoration or dam safety on dams where the surface water upstream of the dam is considered a flowing body of water. Amendment authorizes the DEM to require that the applicant place a public notice of the proposed project in a daily or weekly newspaper with the circulation in area of the project.

14 Status of Dam Removals So far, DEM has approved the removal of 1 dam Approval issued May 28, 2009 for Dyerville Dam (State ID # 136) on the Woonosquatucket River in Providence Dyerville Dam classified as Low Hazard and is currently in partially breached condition Purpose of removal is to improve fish passage

15 Status of Dam Removals Application submitted to DEM to remove 2 other dams Shannock Mill Pond Dam (State ID # 250) in Charlestown on the Pawcatuck River and Paragon Pond Dam (State ID # 139) in Providence on the Woonosquatucket River Both dams classified as Low Hazard Purpose of removal is to improve fish passage Shannock Mill Pond Dam funded using $$ from Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act Shannock Mill Pond Dam on the Pawcatuck River in Charlestown, RI

16 Status of Dam Removals Application expected for partial removal of Pawtuxet River Lower Dam (State ID # 143) in Warwick on the Pawtuxet River Pawtuxet River Lower Dam classified as Low Hazard Purpose of removal is to improve fish passage

17 Other Questions Posed Do we have a master plan? No. DEM is exploring removal at a number of locations for fish passage. Also, with a large number of dams in need of repair, expect this may be most cost effective approach for many of them What resources, financial and technical, are available to dam owners and/or consultants? Only financial resources are Federal funding such as Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. DEM offers technical advice and assists applicants in permitting process. Any issues unique to RI? Geographic size and density make it difficult in many cases to remove dams-many stakeholder interests to address

18 RI Department of Environmental Management For additional information, please contact: David Chopy DEM, Office of Compliance and Inspection Or Russ Chateauneuf DEM, Office of Water Resources


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