Forge Pond Dam Breach is a Wake Up Call for Dam Owners

February 26th, 2010

Brian Graber, American Rivers, 413-585-5896

(Northampton, MA) – American Rivers today called the breach of the Forge Pond Dam in Freetown a wake up call for dam owners statewide. The 300 year old dam is one of the most unsafe dams in Massachusetts. It breached last night, threatening nearby homes with floodwaters. The breach is linked to recent storms, which could also threaten old dams in other Northeast communities.

American Rivers said that dam owners, especially municipalities, should take a lesson from this disaster and remove their obsolete dams before they become hazards. American Rivers also urged Forge Pond Dam workers to remove the dam now instead of taking another temporary measure to prolong the life of the dam, which is no longer providing the function it was designed for.

Brian Graber, Northeast Regional Director of River Restoration for American Rivers, made the following statement:

“The immediate priority must be helping residents stay out of harm’s way. If evacuation orders go into effect we urge residents to comply.”

“Dams across the state are living on borrowed time, and many of our communities are at risk. These dams were built decades to centuries ago and many of them, perhaps most, no longer serve the function that they were built to provide. Closing our eyes to the problem doesn’t make it disappear. The most cost-effective, permanent way for communities to solve the problems of unsafe dams is to remove them.”

“This is a second wake up call following the near failure of the Whittenton Dam in Taunton a few years ago. That wake up call led to a
state-wide review of dams and much more aggressive enforcement by the dam safety office. The state is doing their part of the job. The Forge Pond wake up call needs to now be directed at dam owners to take personal responsibility and recognize their own liability.”

“American Rivers is a leader in the Northeast and nationwide, helping communities remove unsafe and outdated dams. Over the past nine years we have helped remove eight dams in Massachusetts, benefiting public safety and clean water, and saving taxpayer dollars. We are committed to helping dam owners and municipalities get rid of these hazardous relics.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers grades the nation’s infrastructure on a regular basis. Dams have repeatedly received a D.


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.