Please support local news coverage –

Donate Here

BCWA gets $1.2 million to remove Kickemuit River dams

Total project cost will be approximately $2 million, and will likely commence in 2022

By Ted Hayes
Posted 7/29/20

Bristol County Water Authority officials are one step closer to removing two dams on the upper Kickemuit River - and effectively, the river itself as it now exists - after the recent awarding of a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Please support local news coverage –

Donate Here

BCWA gets $1.2 million to remove Kickemuit River dams

Total project cost will be approximately $2 million, and will likely commence in 2022

Posted

Bristol County Water Authority officials are one step closer to removing two dams on the upper Kickemuit River - and effectively, the river itself as it now exists - after the recent awarding of a $1.2 million matching state grant.

The BCWA has sought to remove the dams for several years, following its move to abandon the upper river as a drinking water supply and instead rely on the water supplies of Providence and Pawtucket to supply its ratepayers in Warren, Bristol and Barrington.

The work is expected to cost about $2 million total, and BCWA executive director Pamela Marchand said Wednesday that the authority will look toward internal funding, as well as the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to pay for the remainder of the projects’ cost.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) water resiliency and restoration grant was funded primarily from a 2018 state bond. Of the $1.2 million, $750,000 will go toward the removal of the upper dam, a large earthen dam just north of Schoolhouse Road that was built about 60 years ago. The remaining $450,000 will go toward the removal of the lower dam, which sits adjacent to and just north of Child Street. Though the dams won’t be totally taken out, Ms. Marchand said about 40 feet of each will be cleared. If additional funding sources are found, the work would commence some time in 2022, she said.

Once the dams are out, she said, the upper river, currently about one to three feet deep, “will pretty much become a stream at that point, but it will be replenished with the tides.”

“It will probably go back up to pretty much where it is now, with the rising tide.”

Water quality will also improved once the barriers to the tide, and freshwater infiltration from upstream, is allowed to return, she predicted:

“Right now it’s pretty stagnant water and not very healthy,” she said. “It’s not really conducive to life.”

Once the removal process starts, the dams will be taken out slowly, in phases. Doing so will allow for sediment to dissipate gradually, she said, and soil management plans will also be initiated as the upper Kickemuit’s natural tidal flow is gradually restored.

The land adjacent to the river itself faces a less clear future, though Ms. Marchand said “it will always be public property.”

The authority is interested in demolishing its unused water treatment plant adjacent to the lower dam, and would like to move its offices to a different location. She said BCWA officials are talking with the Town of Warren about possibly doing a land swap, though she said any potential move, and the demolition of the treatment building, is still some time off.

“We want to get through this first,” she said, referring to the dams’ removal.

The DEM grants came out of a statewide $4.36 million pool of funds. Also included in the round of funding is a $60,000 grant to help improve resilience in the vicinity of Market Street and Jamiel’s Park, by installing tide gates to address the frequent flooding impacting residents and businesses there.

Please support your local news coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy - and many of the advertisers who support our work - to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at eastbayri.com - we believe it is our mission is to deliver vital information to our communities. If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please consider a tax-deductible donation. 

https://givebutter.com/helpthewarrentimes-gazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Donate Here

Thank you for your support!

Matt Hayes, Warren Times-Gazette Publisher

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.