Photo Updated 11/9/16
Work has been done toward restoring the Musconetcong River at the location of the removal of the Hughesville Dam. Most recently, the Watershed Ambassador to the MWA and volunteers planted trees which will help serve as a riparian buffer on the river. Riparian buffers serve as a natural defense against our land use impacting the river. They will help to maintain the high water quality our Musky is known for.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined us Thursday, September 8th as we made our first notches in the Hughesville Dam. The dam has since been removed and we are working toward restoring the river near this site.
Photo taken 9/8/16
The dam spanned the Musconetcong River from Holland Township, Hunterdon County to Pohatcong Township, Warren County. The effort is being led by the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) and supported by the Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership. The MWA has coordinated work with property owners, engineers, contractors and partners including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Office of Natural Resource Restoration and the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Click here for a short video on the importance of dam removals and some current footage of the Hughesville Dam.
As with all dam removals, this project started when the dam owner made the decision to have their dam removed. In 2012 the MWA received a letter from International Process Plants and Equipment Corporation (IPPE) stating that they were interested in removing two obsolete dams on their property and looking to partner on next steps. In a river like the Musconetcong, the flows fluctuate seasonally and can be too low for months at a time to generate sufficient hydropower to meet modern needs. Dam owners find themselves in possession of a highly regulated piece of infrastructure that requires considerable maintenance and is no longer “pulling its weight.” In addition, dam owners are eager to rid themselves of a potential liability that might occur in the event of a dam failure during a storm event and flooding or an accident that may occur during recreational use.
When an owner wishes to remove a dam there are usually organizations that can step in to facilitate the process and help to assemble funding accomplish removal. In general, these organizations become involved because of a desire to improve water quality for human and aquatic life, reconnect fisheries and provide kayakers and canoeists with safe passage free of portages and treacherous hydraulic traps below the dams. Fishermen will enjoy a greater variety of native fish to catch, possibly including shad, following the dam removal. In the northwestern part of New Jersey, where karst geology is predominant, surface water quality cannot be separated from groundwater quality. The health of our rivers and streams is only one degree of separation from the health of our drinking water.
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