Will Yarmouth remove dams?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The town of Yarmouth, Maine holds a public hearing tonight on whether to remove two town-owned dams in the Royal River. The dams near Bridge Street and East Elm Street were built long ago to impound water and provide power to mills along the river's course to Casco Bay.  As early as 1759, an iron mill used hydropower produced by the East Elm Street dam's predecessor.  Over time, the dams were updated; in 1984, hydroelectric generation was installed at the Sparhawk Mill adjacent to the Bridge Street dam.

Last fall, dam removal advocates and the town held several meetings to discuss their removal.  Although the dams are equipped with fishways operated by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, environmental and fisheries advocacy groups consider them nonfunctional.

At a December 2011 workshop, all five of Yarmouth's town councilors who were present agreed that the dams should be moved.  To move forward with dam removal, the town will need both financing and regulatory approvals.

Tonight, the dam removal proposal faces a public hearing.

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