Statewide Dam Removal Partnership Launches Website, Workshop

CHESTER - A new website from The New Jersey Statewide Dam Removal Partnership (SDRP), a collaboration of nonprofits and government agencies, is empowering municipalities, non-profits, dam owners and other interested groups with insights for navigating regulatory agencies and executing dam maintenance and removal. The free site is accessible at njdams.org.

According to a release, Bill Leavens, SDRP Outreach Committee member, stated, “Dealing with dams can seem daunting since it usually involves a lot of rules, protocols and different officials. We created this site to demystify the necessary processes for individuals and organizations seeking to take action around dams.”

There are reportedly 15 dams in Cape May County.

The website addresses the purpose and anatomy of dams, answers frequently asked questions, provides news, and explores reasons and steps to take dams out. 

It also offers New Jersey dam removal case studies, including the Finesville and Hughesville dams on the Musconetcong River, the Roberts Street and Calco dams on the Raritan River, and the recently removed Columbia Lake dam on the Paulins Kill. 

“We have provided basic dam information on the site to educate the general public, along with links to more in-depth information and resources for anyone whose interest is piqued,” stated Kyle Richter, Watershed Programs Coordinator, Musconetcong Watershed Association, who served as one of the architects of njdams.org. “We plan to expand the content over time and encourage users to reach out to us with ideas and suggestions. 

“There are more than 1,700 dams in New Jersey,” noted Beth Styler Barry, River Restoration Manager with The Nature Conservancy and a member of the SDRP’s Outreach Committee. “Some present safety concerns, most cause negative environmental impacts and each dam carries with it ongoing costs related to inspection, maintenance, and repair. At the same time, we recognize that many dams serve the public by providing potable water or creating economically important recreational lakes. The SDRP is focused on dams that have outlived their intended use, are in seriously poor condition or are badly impairing ecosystems.”

An upcoming free workshop sponsored by the SDRP and facilitated by American Rivers will bring together dam owners, municipalities, state and federal agencies, and dam removal practitioners to discuss the specific factors that limit the expansion of dam removals in New Jersey. 

“We are looking forward to a productive discussion of the challenges and successful strategies employed in other states and to exploring how those strategies can advance dam removal here,” stated Sara Malone of the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, an SDRP member.

The free workshop will be held Dec. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Watershed Institute, 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington. 

Registration is mandatory. Sign up at NJDams.org, or by contacting Beth Styler Barry at beth.stylerbarry@tnc.org.

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