RIDEM, Save The Bay Start Final Phase Of North Kingstown Dam Removal Project

Jul 5, 2018

A dam removal project in North Kingstown is almost complete.

Save the Bay and Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management have spent the past year removing the Shady Lea dam in the Mattatuxet River. 

They'll be replacing it with a stone staircase that's meant to help native and migratory fish move up and down stream easier.

"Fish are constantly swimming upstream and downstream as water levels change, as water temperatures change, to find the right kind of habitat, to find prey, to find shelter and to live their lives," Kate McPherson, Save the Bay's riverkeeper, said.

McPherson said removing the dam will help restore the natural flow of the river, which she said will open up more spawning areas for fish important to the food chain, such as herring. 

McPherson added another goal of the project is to make the river more resilient to stronger thunderstorms, which scientists expect to result from climate change.

"The water won’t get backed up behind the dam, and if the dam breaks, it won’t all of a sudden flush downstream and have all of the catastrophic effects that can happen," she said.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-August.  

The dam's removal is being funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of coastal recovery and resilience efforts following Hurricane Sandy.