Removal of Dam on West River Underway

By ecoRI News staff

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Work recently began on the Pond Lily Dam removal project along the West River. The $800,000 project, taking place within the New Haven Land Trust’s Pond Lily Nature Preserve, will restore migratory fish passage and minimize flooding, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

The flood risk at Pond Lily has been a safety and economic concern for Westville Village District residents and business owners for many years. Removal of the dam will not only protect nearby urban communities, it also will restore fish passage and habitat on 2.6 stream miles and 76 acres of Konold’s Pond habitat for herring, eel and shad, according to the NRCS.

The removal of the dam is funded in part by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which provides federal emergency funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery and to strengthen natural defenses that can help protect Atlantic Coast communities against future storms.

Additional funding was provided by the NRCS and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The project is being administered by Save the Sound, a bi-state program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

“This project transforms the landscape to yield a profound and significant benefit to the aquatic resources of the West River,” NRCS resource conservationist Todd Bobowick said. “Not only does it improve the morphological and ecological resiliency of the river, but also is a testament to the resiliency of the partnership made up of federal, state and local resource entities — all dedicated to the rehabilitation of riverine migratory corridors to improve their ecological function.”

Project partners include the dam owner, New Haven Land Trust, the city of New Haven, the town of Woodbridge, Restore America’s Estuaries, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Solar Youth, Common Ground High School, Trout Unlimited, the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.