Dam Removals: Seber
For over 50 years, the Seber Dam spanned the Musconetcong River from Hackettstown to Mount Olive about 1 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 $15,000 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. MWA and its dam removal projects were brought to the attention of the CWRP almost simultaneously in July 2008 by 2 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. 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.