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Whately hires firm to design plan to fix eroded river bank

WHATELY — A Cambridge engineering firm specializing in river restoration will design a plan to fix the eroded bank of the Mill River to protect the town’s water system.

The town hired Inter-fluve to do engineering and permitting for the Mill River stabilization project. The town would pay the company up to $85,000 for time and materials. The project will take about six months to complete.

Inter-fluve will finish the job Huntley Associates, P.C., of Northampton started. In April 2011, the town paid Huntley $25,000 to complete the design in seven weeks. Yet, by June 2012 the job was still unfinished and the Board of Selectmen fired the company and lost its $25,000.

Several significant storms have endangered the two wells supplying the Whately Water Department. The storms have altered the river’s water flow, changing its direction and forcing it into the banks near the two wells. As a result, the bank is in jeopardy of eroding.

Inter-fluve will come up with a river stabilization design to prevent the river from washing up to the well.

The wetlands surrounding the Mill River are home to endangered species — dwarf wedges, mussels and turtles. Inter-fluve will have to secure several permits for the project from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

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