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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center
DATE: November 5, 2009
Steve Landry, NHDES, 603-271-2969
Jim Martin, NHDES, 603-271-3710

Removal of the Maxwell Pond Dam and Restoration of Black Brook Celebrated In Manchester
Remnants of Spillway Awarded to Maxwell Pond Dam Removal/Black Brook Restoration Project Partners

Manchester, NH - Today the City of Manchester and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services hosted project partners and guests at the mouth of the Merrimack River to celebrate the removal of the Maxwell Pond Dam and restoration of Black Brook. To recognize their roles in this unique accomplishment, each of the 14 project partners were awarded a “rock,” a commemorative piece of granite taken from the spillway of the dam during the removal process this past March. Following words from several partner representatives: DES, City of Manchester, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and American Rivers, visitors were given a tour of the new, freely flowing Black Brook site where the brook had previously been impounded for over a century, forming Maxwell Pond.

“The removal of the Maxwell Pond Dam and restoration of Black Brook provides an exceptional opportunity to restore fish migratory passage for the first time in a century,” according to Eric Hutchins of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center. “Black Brook will flow swifter and cleaner, greatly improving habitat for alewife, American eel, blueback herring, Atlantic salmon, and other migratory fish native to this area,” he added. The project will also restore an impaired water to support aquatic life use, reduce flooding, and eliminate costs to the City from annual fees and repairs. “By removing this dam, we are breathing new life back into Black Brook and adjacent Blodget Park,” said Chuck Deprima, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cemeteries for the City of Manchester.

The dam on Black Brook was installed in 1900, creating Maxwell Pond, Manchester’s best source of pure ice for harvesting, and a popular swimming, picnicking, fishing, and skating pond. By 2000, upstream land uses had impacted Maxwell Pond and Black Brook, reducing the pond’s depth to less than four feet and severely degrading the water quality. Flooding and deterioration of the dam had also become a significant safety concern.

In 2002, faced with an aging dam that was exacerbating local flooding and threatening critical infrastructure, the City of Manchester partnered with the NHDES and other project partners to craft a comprehensive restoration project. “Each dam removal project has a unique set of circumstances, but what they all have in common is the critical need to work in partnership at the local, state and federal level. Each project must balance the environmental benefits with socio-economic needs,” said DES Commissioner Tom Burack. The long list of organizations contributing to this effort include: the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New Hampshire State Conservation Committee, the New Hampshire Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, American Rivers, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, Trout Unlimited, Manchester Fly Fishing Club, Amoskeag Fishways, Fairpoint Communications, National Grid, Aggregate Industries, and Dubois and King, Inc.

To help identify the success of the restoration effort, water quality, stream channel integrity, vegetative communities, and fish populations will continue to be monitored in this stretch of the brook. The dam removal and brook restoration will also be documented through an informative kiosk constructed in the adjacent Blodget Park and a video documentary on river restoration by American Rivers. This project was one of three dam removal projects across the United States selected by American Rivers for the 2010 documentary video.

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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
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