A dam built in the 1800s, along the Quinnipiac River in Southington, was motioned to be removed at the town’s Planning and Zoning commission meeting on Tuesday, June 21. The 7-0 ruling was decided after John Champion spoke to request removing the Clark Brothers dam, in addition to the Carpenters dam in Meriden.
Champion is with Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment out of New Haven. He proposed to remove only the concrete cap, leaving the other materials of the dam to “reinforce the toe of the bank right below Route 10 where there is some evidence of erosion.” He said that more stone will be used to create a riffle designed by Connecticut Fisheries that will be a sign post for fish to make their way up.
The Clark Brothers dam, located just off Route 10 in Plantsville, near the bowling alley, has clogged the river for more than a century and has been the site of controversy for many years.
When the landfill in Southington experienced a toxic spill many decades ago, it resulted in pollution to this aquifer, located between the Apple Bowling Alley and Route 10. According the Champion, the US Fish and Wildlife Services will be paying for this project as part of the penalty money from the spill.
The project is predicted to clear 15 to 16 miles of fish passage that will allow the aquatic life to travel from the Long Island Sound to the headwaters of the Quinnipiac River. Fish migration is a huge benefit of this project, allowing the fish to move freely up the river, while also providing downstream water flow.
Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) Director Steve Theriault says, “Of course, we are also looking to extend our canoeable trail up through portions of Southington. Dams are an obstacle to canoeing/ kayaking of the River.”
Dam removal provides the possibility to bring fishing back to the community, while keeping the river clean and healthier for its inhabitants.
Save the Sound officials have said that the removal could begin by mid-July.