Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

In Bellingham, the Charles River now flows more freely

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

3/23/17 2:40 PM

Charles River Flows Free

The Charles River after the removal of the  Old Mill Dam in Bellingham. Photo by Allen Orsi. 

After more than a year spent permitting the project and four months of on-site work dredging sediment and deconstructing the Old Mill Dam, the Charles River now flows freely from the North Bellingham dam to the West Medway dam. Although revegetation of the river banks and the newly-capped backwatering area that has been filled with dredged sediment will take several months (not much will grow through the recent snow!), the restoration project is now complete with the exception of the construction of a stormwater treatment basin that will clean runoff from Pearl Street before it makes its way to the river.



Construction of the treatment basin will occur over the summer to minimize impacts to school transportation routes. Complete revegetation will occur in the fall, when plantings will be added to the grasses that have established from hydroseeding. CRWA thanks the project team, Town of Bellingham Department of Public Works and Conservation Commission, Pare Corporation engineers, RC&D, Inc. construction contractors, and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) for their conscientious efforts to ensure that construction of this project did not have negative environmental impacts.


Removal of Old Mill Dam

Removal of the  Old Mill Dam. Photo by Allen Orsi. 

With the first successful dam removal on the Charles River nearly in the bag, CRWA and DER have turned our attention to what we hope will be the next dam removal project on the Charles: the Watertown Dam. Since DER approved CRWA's application to make the Watertown Dam a priority project this year, we have begun to plan our approach for this project. After a successful meeting between DER and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, owner of the Watertown Dam, last week, we are now in a position to move forward planning a feasibility study and accompanying public outreach strategy. We expect the feasibility study to begin later this year and will use a public outreach campaign to determine what questions river users and abutters may have as well as what they would like to see in a free Charles from the Moody Street dam in Waltham to the Museum of Science in Boston. Stay tuned for more updates!



READ MORE: Dam Removal FAQ

Topics: Fish and Wildlife, Charles River, Pollution, Dam Removal

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.