Heavy storms test Rowe’s dams

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 01-15-2023 3:12 PM

ROWE — Last summer’s severe drought is still having an effect on the region this winter, as evidenced by a Dec. 7 rainstorm’s impact on Rowe’s two dams.

The Pelham and Mill Pond dams each feature a sluiceway with a gate that can be opened to allow water to drain quickly through either dam in the event of higher-than-usual water. These sluiceways are often used during storms to ensure the dam doesn’t overflow and sustain damage.

Over time, the sluice gate fills with debris and silt, and maintenance is regularly scheduled to wash it away. During periods of drought, however, such as last summer, the gates cannot be opened for maintenance because doing so requires sufficient water in the lake or pond upstream.

Therefore, during a Dec. 7 rainstorm, the debris and silt buildup that accumulated over the summer caused the sluice gates to not open properly. Thanks to quick action from Selectboard member Ed Silva, Police Chief Julie Shippee, firefighters and members of the Department of Public Works, no damage resulted.

“Some creative problem solving by the Rowe keeper of the dams, Rowe DPW, the Rowe Fire Department and Rowe Selectboard member Ed Silva helped get the debris cleared from the sluice gate, allowing it to open to release the excess water,” Selectboard Chair Chuck Sokol wrote in an email.

No repairs are necessary at this time, but this incident led the Selectboard to discuss the future of dam repairs. According to Sokol, the town will begin researching what additional preventative maintenance at the dams may be required in the springtime.

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If any maintenance or silt and debris clearing requires regulatory approval or substantial work beyond the scope of what could reasonably be included in a typical operating budget, Sokol said the Selectboard will seek grants or other funding sources to offset these costs.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.

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