Lake Warner dam repairs wrap up in Hadley

  • In this July 2017 photo, dive supervisor Adam Pietryka of Williamstown, N.J. based Portadam, left, and divers Eric Guidry and Matthew Santiago guide a roughly 1.5 ton bag of sand to the bottom of Lake Warner in order to create a temporary cofferdam to permit repair work on decaying concrete at the Hadley dam. The repair work is now complete. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Lake Warner Dam in Hadley, shown June 20, has undergone repairs to preserve the deteriorating structure. The repair work is now complete. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

HADLEY — Repairs to the dam at Lake Warner are finished, ensuring the historic structure will remain in place and the 350-year-old body of water is preserved.

Town Administrator David Nixon said the work is substantially complete and officials are now waiting for the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety, whose inspectors examined it in recent days, to issue a certificate of compliance.

The project began in June, more than four years after the current dam, built in 1919, was determined to be structurally deficient by state inspectors in December 2012.

As a “significant” hazard, the dam showed signs of deterioration, including crumbling concrete, inoperable outlet gates and sections of unstable walls and leakage.

The repairs, which included making the low level outlet control gate fully operational, brings the dam into compliance with state regulations for the first time in almost 50 years.

They also will allow the Friends of Lake Warner and Mill River Inc. to soon take ownership of the dam from Kestrel Land Trust, which assumed responsibility for the dam after merging with the Valley Land Fund in 2011.

Friends Executive Director Jason Johnson said in an email that this marks a capstone of efforts to ensure the historical landscape was preserved for the use and enjoyment of the community and protection of wildlife habitat.

“With the dam repair completed the Friends can focus on stewardship and management of the 68-acre lake, which is suffering from historical and present nutrient enrichment, or ‘eutrophication,’” Johnson said.

The ongoing work will include scientific studies, wetland protection, nutrient management, municipal stormwater programs and restoration of degraded waterways throughout the Mill River watershed, Johnson said.

The project received local, state and private funding, including $100,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Act account, $215,000 from an Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs state grant and more than $50,000 from donors.

During the work, the ramp that allows people to launch boats for fishing and other recreation was closed on occasion.

In the near future, the Select Board and Massachusetts Historical Commission will act on an historic preservation restriction for the dam, Nixon said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.