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News Dam Removal Underway at Upper Roberts Brook (Northampton)

Dam removal restores access for local trout population to approximately 4 miles of clean, coldwater habitat.
  • Division of Ecological Restoration
Three images show dam removal underway and stream channel forming through previous impoundment.

After many years of design, permitting, and public engagement, removal of the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir Dam began in June. Work is being performed by SumCo-Eco Contracting with demolition oversight provided by project engineer GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. Funding from the state to support project implementation includes a $634,000 grant from the Dam and Seawall Repair and Removal Fund, as well as a $25,000 grant from DER. The project allowed the City to decommission an obsolete and unsafe structure, and to promote restoration of this coldwater stream. DER staff has provided several years of technical support to City of Northampton, focusing primarily on sediment management. The project involves a staged removal and downstream monitoring to help assess and address any risks posed by the downstream release of sediment from the former impoundment.

Downstream ecological impacts are expected to be short-lived, and then transition to permanent benefits as the degraded channel receives inputs of habitat-forming sediment and organic matter. By mid-July, the contractors had removed enough of the dam to fully drain the former impoundment and initiate the upstream channel restoration processes. MassWildlife and local universities are assisting with biological and water quality monitoring. As shown in these photos, the restored channel in the former impoundment is already looking good, with a gravel bottom quickly reforming. More physical adjustment will occur in the months ahead, along with revegetation in the former impoundment. All of this is good news for the local trout population, who now have access restored to approximately 4 miles of clean, coldwater habitat in the upper watershed. DER looks forward to more coordination with the City of Northampton in the months ahead as the project wraps up.

Photos Left to Right: Dam removal well underway; channel forming about midway through previous impoundment; channel forming through the upper section of former impoundment.

Division of Ecological Restoration 

DER restores and protects rivers, wetlands, and watersheds in Massachusetts for the benefit of people and the environment.