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Mill River Restoration

The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) is leading a federal, state, and local partnership to improve water quality and restore aquatic habitat on the Mill River in Taunton.

Mill River, Taunton, MA

Excavator removing dam
Whittenton Dam at start of removal in July 2013.

The Mill River is a tributary to the dam-free Wild and Scenic Taunton River which in turn flows into Narragansett Bay. National attention focused on the Mill River in 2005 when Whittenton Dam came close to failing during an extreme flood. The crisis catalyzed the City, agencies and NGOs to examine the public safety benefits of removing three aging dams on the Mill River. With guidance from DER and others, the Mill River Restoration Partners and dam owners began to explore removing the three obsolete dams and building a fish ladder at a fourth.

Currently the Mill River Restoration Project is underway. In 2012 the Hopewell Mills Dam was removed and a fish ladder was constructed at Morey’s Bridge Dam. The Whittenton Dam was removed in 2013. The final dam, the West Britannia Dam, will be removed in the fall of 2017. 

When complete, the project will open up over 50 miles of mainstem and tributary habitat and 400 acres of pond habitat for river herring, American eel, and other migratory and resident fish. The project will also improve water quality and improve public safety.

Vital Statistics

Town: Taunton
Major Watershed: Taunton
Subwatershed: Mill River
Partners: DER, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, Save the Bay, NOAA Restoration Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service,  USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, MA Division of Marine Fisheries, MA Department of Mental Health MA Department of Transportation, Mass Audubon, Taunton River Watershed Alliance, Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program, dam owners