Ice jams gone from Millers

  • The Millers River in early January. Recorder file photo

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ATHOL — The sound of gurgling water could once again be heard from the Exchange Street bridge Tuesday, as water rushed down the Millers River that’s now free of jammed ice.

At one point earlier in January, when fluctuating temperatures caused ice to jam the river, causing flooding concerns, “we thought we were going to lose the bridge by the police station,” said Police Chief Russell T. Kleber.

As a precaution, emergency crews evacuated 26 occupied apartments at the Morton Meadows elderly housing complex, which is right next to the river. Within days, the occupants returned, but Kleber and other town officials have been concerned the same situation could happen again.

Following warmer temperatures these past few days, however, “you’ll see that the ice is on the sides, now, and water is flowing,” Kleber continued, noting, “I thought it wasn’t going to (clear) until March or April.”

Kleber praised efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers, who manage the Birch Hill Dam upriver. Recently, Kleber, Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, and Fire Chief John L. Duguay visited the dam to assess the situation.

“When the water was warm, they cleared it out,” Kleber said.

At least in part, the ice jam happened because the riverbank hasn’t been cleared of trees in years. Looking ahead, to prevent future ice jams, Kleber said, “there are grants that we need to look into, and maybe apply for, that will help us maintain the banks.”