On October 7, 2021, Mayor Allaire, VNRC and its partners met along Tenney Brook in Rutland to celebrate the removal of Dunklee Pond Dam. The derelict dam was removed to benefit public safety, fish and wildlife, water quality, and flood resilience. Removal of this deteriorating structure also mitigates what was a major flood risk to nearby homes. With approximately 13 miles of habitat reconnected, Tenney Brook is once again a free-flowing river, allowing for the natural movement of fish and other aquatic organisms as well as terrestrial birds and animals.
The Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) began the dam removal in early August following a three-year design and permitting process. Bill Lovett, Fire Chief for the City of Rutland, said they had to evacuate the nearby homes along Tenney Brook a total of eight times during heavy rainfall events.
The project involved removal of the dam, excavation of about 11,300 cubic yards of sediment from behind the dam, and the creation of a new pilot stream channel and floodplain in the former Dunklee Pond. The floodplain has been mulched and seeded with native plant species, and additional plantings are planned for spring 2022.
“We’ve established a new pilot channel for the stream through the old pond, but the stream will continue to adjust its shape and location as it stabilizes.” said Karina Dailey, Restoration Ecologist and Vermont Dam Task Force Coordinator at VNRC.
Roy Schiff and Doug Osborne of SLR in Waterbury designed the project and performed construction oversight, while Kings Trucking & Excavating, Inc out of Cambridge were the site contractors on the project. Roy observed, “Tenney Brook is now free-flowing in the area and the channel and floodplains have been restored. Flood levels are a lot lower now and fish can swim through the site”.
“While there were definitely some challenging days associated with balancing all of the elements of this project, I am extremely happy with the final outcome,” said Dailey. “We are grateful to the dam landowners, the Shah family, and neighboring landowners – Forte Brothers, Pond Meadows Association, and the City of Rutland for the support, cooperation, and appreciation of this dam removal project that benefits fish and wildlife, water quality, and flood resilience”. According to River Management Engineer Todd Menees, “the dam removal project excavated about 400 pounds of phosphorus that would otherwise have reached Lake Champlain and the restored floodplain wetlands will trap future sediments from contributing to the cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Champlain”.
“I want to send a big thank-you to everyone who brought this project to a successful conclusion. Big win for Tenney Brook, the neighbors, the City of Rutland, and the State of Vermont”, said Mayor Allaire.
“Other dam owners who would like to pursue removal should contact VNRC for help with these important projects,” added Dailey. The Dunklee Pond Dam was one of hundreds of small dams in Vermont that no longer serve a useful purpose.
VNRC led the removal with support from its partners, Vermont River Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Trout Unlimited, and the VTDEC Ecosystem Restoration Program. Funding for design, permitting, and construction was provided by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish Passage Program, and Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation – Clean Water Initiative Program.
For more information about the work VNRC and partner organizations are doing to remove unused and unmaintained dams across Vermont, visit https://freevermontrivers.org/