Town officials reveal estimated costs for Noquochoke Dam

May 15, 2019

Repairing or rehabilitating the Lake Noquochoke dam would cost at least 70 percent more than simply removing it, according to a report sent to the Town of Dartmouth by the city of Fall River.

Dartmouth Environmental Affairs Coordinator Michael O’Reilly cited figures from the report at a town Conservation Commission meeting on Tuesday evening.

He said that the report concluded the costs of repairing the dam would be around $1.7 million, while rehabilitating the dam could cost around $2.2 million.

Both of these options include the installation of a fish ladder as required by state law for the passage of saltwater fish to freshwater spawning grounds at an estimated cost of $475,000.

Removing the dam would cost about $1 million.

Fall River owns the dam on which Lake Noquochoke depends, although the lake and the properties around it are entirely situated within the Town of Dartmouth.

The dam needs some upkeep in order to comply with state law.

But Fall River is considering breaching the dam instead because the city no longer uses the lake, which was once a source of water for industrial mills that have long since gone.

However, the city’s Administrator of Community Utilities Terry Sullivan has stated that Fall River would likely consider other options if the town of Dartmouth agreed to help with “a significant portion” of the costs.

Fall River brought the fate of the dam to the forefront following an enforcement order from Dartmouth’s Conservation Commission regarding unpermitted docks built by lakeshore residents.

Due to the enforcement order against the city, O’Reilly said it would be “inappropriate” for him to take the lead in any discussions between Dartmouth and Fall River.

“Any further discussions related to the Town of Dartmouth’s participation with the City of Fall River in repair costs are something that are going to be outside of the Conservation Commission discussions,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting.

According to Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes, the report will be on the agenda at next Monday’s Select Board meeting, where the board members will discuss next steps and set up a meeting with Fall River to work with them on the issue.