Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the editor: Concerns with Walton’s Mill Dam Feasibility Report

After reading through the Waltons Mill Dam Feasibility Report of Feb. 2018, I feel I must add my concerns to the discussion. I am in my 60’s and grew up on the banks of the pond. My mother still lives on the edge of the pond and my family, (many great grandchildren), still enjoy the activities of fishing, bird watching, boating, and other associated activities with the pond. Having spent many, many hours on and around the pond I probably know it as well as anyone alive today.

The dam really holds no particular interest to me and it can be a very dangerous places for young adventurous people. My brothers, neighbor friends and I are, fortunate to have never suffered great hurt from walking the dam. I also would greatly enjoy seeing Atlantic salmon return to the ecosystem of Temple Stream and recreating a lost aspect from years ago.

My concerns however are what prompt me to write this article. The first thing that comes out of the Feasibility Report is the concern of silt. (Sec 3.4) A few years ago there was concern about the Whittier Rd. and erosion from the Sandy River. Part of the concern was that disturbance of the bank to repair it would cause siltation of the water which would affect insect live, fish life, and other aquatic lives. The impoundment behind Waltons Dam as noted in the report has tons of sedimentary silt that would be washed into the stream out-flow. I can attest that the mud in the pond is not only deep but also dangerous causing a person to sink up to their waist under the right conditions. This silt would devastate the stream ecosystem from the dam to the confluence of the Sandy River basically wiping it out. The draining of the pond would also destroy an existing ecosystem and create conditions for more erosion and siltation.

The second issue is that draining the pond will not create a nice meandering stream for visitors to enjoy. First it will become a mud flat with stagnant pools for the breeding of mosquitoes. The topography will prevent it from becoming a stream and I suspect it will become a segmented pond meandering through a marsh land as it may have been when the first settlers saw it. The banks of the stream and around segmented pools will quickly be populated with cattails, marsh grass, and alders. These will become too thick for human activity and it will continue to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and with the infiltration of mice, ticks. Once the alders are established or before, the beaver will begin their engineering work and create a maze of channels and dams causing even more barriers to human activity.

The last issue concerns me most as I have pre-teen grandchildren. When the dam is removed the water level will drop 6-8 feet and since the pond has pools that are 12 to 16 feet deep it will leave behind some dangerous conditions. The channel cuts through clay sedimentary soils which will create steep slippery banks and in some cases such as the access point behind my mother’s house the banks will be sheer clay walls with a deadly pool in the bottom. These banks will be unstable for a period of time subject to collapse and anyone who falls in will be in danger of harm. Liability for harm may rest with those that created the hazard thus I bring it up before harm happens.

My last thought is that the biggest problem for the Atlantic salmon is survival in the open ocean and there are no solutions for that. Do we want to destroy two ecosystems, turn an accessible area into an inaccessible area, and create liability hazards for a species that is dying outside our control?

Kevin Savage
Wilton

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4 Responses »

  1. Very thoughtfully considered. Since dams are being removed all over New England I would think there would be at least one reliable expert to address your many valid questions and observations.

  2. Very good article.

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. I hope your common sense is infectious to the hand wringers obsessed with a salmon fantasy.

  4. I am a member of the Farmington Conservation Commission. We have had several discussion concerning the Walton Dam and are going to sponsor several educational events around this issue. I appreciate your fears about the changes to the local environment. Many of the issues you bring up will be discussed by different local experts. For instance the money the Atlantic Salmon Federation is willing to donate will include replanting up to the banks of the stream with local plantings to help prevent invasive species coming in and to prevent "mosquito breeding" pools being left behind. I encourage you to bring your concerns to the meetings so that they can be addressed. They will be held in the early fall and as soon as a place is set we will put that information in the Daily Bulldog.

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