Fall 2020 Newsletter CORRECTION: Removing the Musky’s Largest Dam
Photo: (From left to right) Sandra Meola, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; Ed Potasnak, League of Conservation Voters, Alan Hunt, Musconetcong Watershed Association; Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman; Tom Wells, the Nature Conservancy; Jim Waltman, The Watershed Institute; and Eric Schrading, NJ Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
MWA is excited to announce that we have received $260,000 from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to begin work to remove the Warren Mill Dam. The MWA is grateful to USFWS for recognizing the importance of completing a feasibility study before we can remove the largest dam on the Musconetcong River.
This project will support and expand on the preliminary design work performed by NJDEP. USFWS and MWA will work to develop a portion of the conceptual dam removal design including engineering assessment of removal, sediment transport and management plans, estimated to cost $260,000. Objectives of the project are to prepare a conceptual design of dam removal in accordance with the New Jersey Dam Safety Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:20). This includes the preparation of plans, specifications, and design calculations for the removal of the dam in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal laws.
At 330’ wide and 39’ tall, this massive structure was once used to power the nearby factories, but now sits obsolete. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) lists the Warren Mill Dam as a Class I High Hazard dam because the failure of it could result in loss of life or extensive property damage.
MWA plans to work with the support of USFWS to complete a feasibility study that will take a closer look at the sediment and silt accumulation behind the dam. The feasibility study will help determine the best way to manage the sediment that has accumulated over the last 100 years. The amount of sediment behind the Warren Mill Dam makes this process more challenging than other dam removals that have occurred on the Musky.
The USFWS has been a vital partner to the MWA for years. Their technical and on-the-ground assistance was key to the removal of 5 dams and restoration of both instream and bankside habit for native species. In addition, they have been effective advocates for bringing Federal funding to the Musconetcong Watershed.
Along with funding this project, USFWS provided funding and support for the removal of the Hughesville Dam. This complex project involved many layers of scientific research, engineering approvals, and community outreach. For his part, Eric Schrading, USFWS Field Supervisor for the New Jersey Field Office, was instrumental in securing Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to speak at the dam’s notching.
More recently, USFWS has continued to monitor the site, downstream from the Warren Mill Dam, and has worked with the MWA and other members of the Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership to document the return of American Shad to the Musconetcong and improvements in water quality at this site.
MWA has a long-standing history of working with USFWS on other river restoration projects, including the Riegelsville Dam removal during the summer of 2011 and the Finesville Dam removal during the fall of 2011.
Representatives from Congress recognize the Warren Mill Dam removal as an important step in the ecological restoration of our Partnership Wild & Scenic River and that its removal will create more habitat for native aquatic wildlife, like the American shad.
While a project of this scale is not going to be completed overnight, MWA is excited to partner with other key stakeholders to develop a plan for this site. Removing the Warren Mill Dam will prevent local flooding and make this section of the lower Musconetcong River more accessible for kayaking and canoeing. For more information on this continuing project, visit our website or follow the MWA on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
NOTE: Our Fall Newsletter article about this project mistakenly identified the funder as NJDEP, instead of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.