Orrington nears rock ramp fishway dam

Posted July 26, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2011, at 12:09 a.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine – Town leaders are replacing the deteriorating Meadow Dam with a new rock ramp fishway dam, and residents will be able to watch the progress.

The town received a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit Thursday to replace the old Sedgeunkedunk Stream dike with the fishway dam, which will look like natural rapids created by a pile of brook rocks.

The new dam will allow fish to pass. That’ s not possible now.

The new dam will have a hidden solid dam wall underneath the rocks to regulate water levels. Fish blocked from traveling upstream by the old dam include alewives and endangered Atlantic salmon.

“They’ re putting a webcam up behind the firehouse so people will be able to see the work going on,” Selectwoman Chris Lavoie said Thursday. “There are not that many of these types of dams, the fishway dam, around. It’ s going to be interesting.”

Plans also are in the works to improve a small park behind the dam, by adding dirt to make access for boaters easier, Lavoie said.

A preconstruction conference was held Friday between town leaders and officials from Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield, which is helping with construction to offset the effects of constructing a bulkhead on the Penobscot River as part of its Eastern Manufacturing Facility in Brewer.

The company has pledged $67,735 in work for the project.

Cianbro’ s new module manufacturing facility is on the site of the old Eastern Fine Paper Co. mill, which built two hydroelectric dams in Orrington that the town acquired for nonpayment of taxes after the Brewer mill closed in 2004.

“They’ re in hopes Monday to cut trees,” Lavoie said.

It was learned after the town acquired the properties that it would cost approximately $189,000 to repair the Meadow Dam. Town leaders then began working to find alternatives for fixing or replacing the dam.

A local biologist for Aquatic Science Association Inc. in Brewer suggested the fishway dam as a way to restore the area to a more natural state and increase use by fish.

Kleinschmidt Associates of Pittsfield, a firm that specializes in hydro dams, designed and engineered the new dam.

It’ s the partnerships with Aquatic Science, Kleinschmidt, Cianbro and state and federal organizations and agencies that have provided support and funding to make the project possible and keep local costs low, Lavoie said.

“We never would have gotten it done without them,” she said. “They have really worked their tails off and helped us get things done.”

Selectmen are expected to award the contract for construction of the fishway dam when they meet at 7 p.m. Monday, July 28, at Town Hall.

The agenda includes action to assign Aquatic Science and Kleinschmidt as third-party inspectors for the dam’ s construction, and the acceptance of a grant from Ducks Unlimited for the new dam.

The webcam soon will be available for viewing at: http://orrington.govoffice.com.

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