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Danvers dam ruled "unsafe"

Posted by Sean Teehan  January 14, 2011 01:17 PM

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A study on Massachusetts dams by the former state auditor listed the Danvers-owned Curtis Pond Dam as one of six unsafe municipally controlled dams in the state.

The report, which was released by State Auditor Joseph DeNucci's Division of Local Mandates earlier this month, lists 100 dams that are either in poor condition or unsafe. Poor condition, according to the report, means the dam has major structural, operational, and other deficiencies, while unsafe dams "are at high risk of failure."

Also on the study's unsafe list are the Phillipston Reservoir Dam in Phillipston, the Fyfeshire Pond Dam in Bolton, the Carpenter Road Pond Dam in Dudley, the Carpenter Upper Pond Dike in Foxborough, and the Carpenter Upper Pond Dam in Foxborough.

According to Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis, crews made breaches in the dam in November to allow water to flow through in a more natural fashion. After the work, Marquis said, the dam should no longer be classified as unsafe.

"We believe that it should now be classified as a poor rated dam," Marquis said.

The dam's substandard condition is no news to Danvers, whose Town Meeting appropriated $300,000 for its removal in 2009, Marquis said.

Removal will most likely take a number of years because of a lengthy permitting process which requires eight different entities to approve the project.

The Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety ruled the dam unsafe in 2008 and required Danvers to either rebuild the dam or get rid of it completely, Wendy Fox, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation said in an October interview.

Fox noted damages to the dam's spillway, concrete deterioration, and trees growing in the dam, among other problems with the structure.

"It's a significant hazard dam, meaning that if this dam were to go, it could take out a lot of property downstream," Fox said.

Marquis said part of the Ipswich River the dam occupies does not flow heavy enough to consider it significantly hazardous.

Danvers originally had until August to get rid of the dam, but was granted an extension by DCR, Fox said.

The dam, which is in Middleton, but owned by Danvers, was originally built to power a saw mill. Danvers bought the Curtis Pond Dam in 1974 to provide an additional drinking water source, according to the Ipswich River Watershed Association.

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