Dam Removals in New Jersey – How Did We Get Here?

Dam Removal

(Dam removal) will result in a significant environmental improvement to the Raritan River, making this a valuable habitat for fish spawning, improving overall environmental conditions in the river system, and expanding recreational opportunities,” –  NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin

Written by  . Published June 25, 2013

In the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, it became painfully evident that the many dams in and around the state were woefully obsolete. Obsolescence occurs on a dam when it, either through climactic changes or antiquated designs, is unable to safely pass those infrequent yet highly destructive floods. Obsolescence can also occur when earthen embankments or concrete structures have deteriorated to the point of no longer providing safe resistance to seepage and impounding water behind the dam. The threat to the public living in the path of a potential flood wave that results when a dam suddenly bursts is varied but can have serious consequences and liabilities for dam owners.

Following the hurricane, the NJDEP Bureau of Dam Safety sent letters to all the dam owners in their records reminding them of their obligation to maintain their regulated structures in compliance with the Dam Safety Regulations. It was serendipitous that, at the same time, American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started a program called the “Community-Based Restoration Program River Grants,” whereby grants were made available to remove obsolete dams to allow for migratory fish passage. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at the same time started looking to dam removals as meeting the restoration criteria for their funding programs.

(to read more, visit the Princeton Hydro blog here.)

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One Response to Dam Removals in New Jersey – How Did We Get Here?

  1. Geoff Goll says:

    Thank you, Duke Farms Foundation, for re-posting my story to your site! It is much appreciated. We know that ecological restoration and sustainability is the mission of the Duke Farms Foundation. With the Raritan River surrounding your property, the removal of blockages on this main stem will increase water quality and the fishery, and is a sustainable practice, as removal eliminates any future maintenance and replacement liabilities; thus geographically expanding the impacts of your mission. And the statement by Commissioner Martin is key evidence of NJDEP support.

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