HOPE VALLEY – In the three towns of the Chariho region – Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton – one of the biggest fears during the epic flooding of 2010 was whether or not the numerous local dams were hold.
Luckily for residents of the area, most of the dams did, in fact, not breach. And for those that did, the damage was minimal enough to not cause severe damage to neighboring properties.
At first glance, the damage to the Wood River dam on Mechanic Street appeared to be negligible. Also, the state Department of Environmental Management's assistant to the director, Thomas D. Getz, noted that the dam has been rated as a “low hazard” structure. What that means is that a failure of that dam would not post a threat to human life or property, he explained.
Throughout the state, there are more than 100 dams classified as “high hazard,” where the DEM would expect different, more drastic outcomes if they failed, Getz said. “[They] are a higher DEM priority,” he added.
Following the floods, Getz said the DEM assessed dams across Rhode Island. Included in that study was the dam on Mechanic Street.
“DEM recognizes its historic and limited functional values,” he explained, “but this structure represents just one of more than 600 dams in Rhode Island.”
With that in mind, the DEM linked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to further evaluate the dam.
Getz said it was learned that it is one of three structures eligible for funding through the service's Emergency Watershed Protection program.
And nearly six months following the assessment, it was announced Monday, March 14 that the DEM had executed a grant agreement through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Thomas Chopy, acting chief of the DEM's Compliance and Inspection division, said that repair work will soon begin at the Mechanic Street dam, which actually sits in both Richmond and Hopkinton.
The deadline for the repairs is Sept. 30. Engineers will also be working on the Carolina Trout Pond dam, which has the same deadline.