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Seber Dam Removal

For over fifty years, the Seber Dam spanned the Musconetcong River from Hackettstown to Mount Olive about one mile upstream from the Route 46 bridge. The dam was built in the 1950's to form a swimming area for Hackettstown residents. The dam was formed of dumped rock and rubble and was periodically overlain with whatever pourable aggregate was on hand. It had been breached and repaired on a number of occasions over the past fifty years.  


For this project MWA was very excited to welcome a new partner.  The Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), which has over 225 corporate partners and 100 non-federal partners, including environmental organizations and foundations, contributed fifteen thousand dollars toward the project.  The CWRP is a private-public initiative aimed at preserving, restoring, enhancing and protecting aquatic habitats throughout the United States, and is very interested in MWA's long term goals for river restoration. The structure of the CWRP allows corporate contributions to rapidly reach projects where they will produce tangible results.

We were also grateful for old friends.... The Musconetcong Watershed Association and its dam removal projects were brought to the attention of the CWRP almost simultaneously in July of 2008 by two MWA partners - Julia Somers of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and John Parke of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Both Somers and Parke were familiar with the work of CWRP and saw a natural fit with the MWA's long term plans for water quality improvement on the Musconetcong River. The association received funding from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership after an application was submitted by John Parke in the fall of 2008.

 
The Seber Dam was the second dam to be removed by the MWA.  The process began on Wednesday, February 11, 2009.  A notch was cut in the dam that allowed the dam pond to de-water; lowering the level in the upstream impoundment helped to stabilize the banks and allow for easier access and better work conditions for the equipment needed to remove the structure. The complete removal took place on Thursday, February 19, 2009. The MWA's goal in removing the dam was to restore the river's natural flow, improve water quality, and eliminate a potential flood hazard. Removal of the dam helps reduce thermal pollution impacts associated with the dam pool.

Following the dam removal, an extensive stream bank restoration project similar to the work done at the Gruendyke site, the first dam removed by the organization, was undertaken. Restoration work was funded by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Trout Unlimited volunteers led the work of planting trees and shrubs purchased with the NRCS funding.


The Express-Times

Aiming to take down dam - Hackettstown officials considering Seber Dam's demise

Saturday, July 14, 2007 By LYNN OLANOFF

The town-owned dam in the Musconetcong River has been crumbling for decades. It may be helped along in its demise if town officials approve its removal.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association is working to knock down the more than 20 dams along the river and asked town officials Monday to consider removing their Seber Dam. With all the river's mills closed, the dams no longer serve a purpose and inhibit free water flow and fish passage, according to association members.

"There's tremendous environmental benefits that happen when a dam is removed," said Tim Dunne, a biologist with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. Dunne told town officials federal funding could pay up to 75 percent of the costs for the dam's removal. Other funding is likely available, association members said.

About $180,000 has been obtained to remove the Gruendyke Dam, a downstream dam owned by the Pump House restaurant, said Geoffrey Goll, the association's engineer. The association is aiming to have the Gruendyke Dam removed in August or September, which would make it the first of the Musconetcong River dams to be demolished. The group is still awaiting state approval. Hackettstown officials have said obtaining outside funding is necessary for their approval to remove the Seber Dam. They agreed Monday the dam should be taken down. The dam is in horrible shape and state officials may require the town to replace it, likely with a large and out-of-place dam, Mayor Michael Lavery said.

"The type of monstrosities you have to replace them with are cost prohibitive and you wouldn't want them there," he said. Council members reminisced Monday about their youth when the Seber Dam had diving boards on it for the town's swimming hole.

Town officials told the Musconetcong Watershed Association they want more time to think over the removal of the dam. "We need some time to discuss this among council," Lavery said.