THIS PAGE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS - We are adding information as we get it.
This page has been created to post some of the information we have gathered and learned in recent weeks related to the River Road Dam in Brentwood, which is currently for sale. NH DES identifies the dam as the Exeter River Dam, D029001 in Brentwood. This is in chronological order starting at the top. Read down to the bottom for any updates as they come in.
On Thursday April 8th, Selectmen hosted meeting space at the request of Frank Coughlin, to talk about the Brerntwood Dam. Many interested abutters, neighbors (both Fremont and Brentwood residents) attended, and we were fortunate to have Charlie Krautmann, a Dam Safety Engineer from NH DES, at this meeting and he was able to answer many of the questions asked.
Until a homeowners group steps forward, Charlie will forward information to the Selectmen's Office and it will be posted here. At such time as a Point of Contact for the owners or abutters is determined, they may assume a role or handle communications internally. We are posting here what we have as a matter of public record in an attempt to asssit with information.
All of this information below was received from Charlie Krautmann at the NH DES Dam Bureau:
Charlie is going to do the following, from the discussions generated on 06/08/2017:
1. Provide the Town with a list of Village Districts that have recently formed;
See link below to review RSAs (RSA 52) related to forming a Village District and associated laws:
Below are a few contacts that may be helpful to the residents around the pond if they consider forming a Village District. Not all contacts below are Village Districts but may be relevant and provide insight to the circumstances at Exeter River Dam. I have communicated with the contacts below to make sure they are willing to discuss the matter:
1. Moeckel Pond, Dam D256008 in Windham – Contact: Norm Young at email@example.com or (603) 496-1893
3. White Oak Pond, Dam D118002 in Holderness – Contact: Walter Johnson at (603) 991-3734
WOPWA purchased the dam from the previous owner (in the 1990s) and conveyed ownership to the Town of Holderness (due to their blanket, Assoc. of Municipalities liability policy).
Below is some general information on the conveyance of a dam to the State. Like I said during the meeting, this isn’t a common occurrence and is a lengthy process. In the case of the Exeter River Dam (D029001), it probably does not include sufficient benefits to the State that outweigh the cost to operate, maintain and reconstruct the dam although as stated below, needs to be evaluated by multiple agencies.
While the State of New Hampshire has accepted conveyance of dams from property owners in the past, the process of determining the relative benefits of such acquisitions considers many factors. Specifically, NHDES, in cooperation with other state agencies, evaluates such things as the parameters listed below.
a. Potential supply and quality of water - the effect of losing the dam on the surrounding area, its groundwater levels and aquifer recharge areas and watershed.
b. General environmental, scenic, historical and ecological concerns.
c. Safety considerations - if repair is needed to protect downstream property, what cost sharing is available between the present owner, the municipality and other interested parties.
d. Fish and wildlife value of the water impoundment - a report from the department of Fish & Game evaluating the wildlife resources, with and without the dam.
e. Recreational value - past, present and expected future use of the water body by the public; such as swimming, boating, fishing and good public access.
f. Energy potential - possibility of the use of the dam as a hydropower site, or other economic value as a water storage or impoundment area.
g. Deeded access - needed by the state for such things as future repair and maintenance of the dam.
h. Flood control potential - to protect downstream areas from serious flood damage.
These criteria, as well as others that may be appropriate for the site being evaluated, are designed to measure the impact of breaching the dam against its value as a public asset. In addition, dam owners making a request for state acquisition are expected to have considered other means to address any specific issue(s) that acquisition is meant to solve - including, but not limited to, performing a breach of the structure or investigating the feasibility of alternative ownership.
Should someone elect to proceed with the process to have the state consider ownership, the process begins with engaging the assistance of a local representative to the NH legislature to draft a bill specific to your intentions. This could include coordinating with NHDES and other state agencies to gather data and information related to the advantages or disadvantages of such a plan. As part of the legislative process, the evaluation of the assets or liabilities of state acquisition, in accordance with the criteria noted, will occur and, ultimately, NHDES and other agencies will provide specific testimony to the legislative committee evaluating the bill. I have provided a link that provides the road map for the legislative process: https://www.nh.gov/nhinfo/bills.html
Any acquisition carries with it responsibilities, both related to a long term commitment of state funds required for the operation, maintenance and potential reconstruction of the dam and acceptance of other liabilities that may arise from those activities and use of the property;
3. Over the next two months I will create a hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) model as well as an inspection report which will likely be in the form of a Letter of Deficiency (LOD). This report will outline the deficiencies of the dam and really be the starting point for any potential buyers on what will be required to make the dam compliant with our rules. The hazard classification of the dam is still questionable, it is currently rated as a Low hazard dam and I will confirm that in my study but if it is bumped up to a Significant or High hazard dam, based on the houses downstream of it, that will potentially create additional requirements as our rules are more stringent for Significant and High hazard dams;
4. Once the LOD is distributed, the residents should start talking with an attorney regarding legal matters if they are seriously considering the purchase of the dam;
5. Similarly, they should start discussions with an approved engineer (by the Dam Bureau) to get rough estimates of costs to repair the dam as well as an external H&H analysis. Attached is a list of engineers that NHDES has worked with over the years in dam reconstruction although it isn’t comprehensive and we would need to vet their resume to confirm that they have suitable experience on similar projects (Env-Wr 403.03(a)(1) - minimum requirements include a PE license in New Hampshire with at least 5 years of engineering experience related to the design and construction of similar dam projects as determined by the department); and
6. Anyone is welcome to schedule an appointment with us (Wendy Stout, Wendy.Stout@des.nh.gov or by phone at (603) 271-3406 to come in and review the file (and make photocopies). The paper file is approximately 4” thick.
Additionally, the Owner of Pickpocket Dam, D029007 which is in the Town of Brentwood, is owned by the Town of Exeter – Public Works. There have been some informal discussions of its removal due to a potential hazard classification upgrade but that is still ongoing so nothing is official.
This is the link to the NH DES Dam Bureau pages of the State's website. The FACT SHEETS Charlie referenced and a lot of other information can be referenced here:
The Town will address property value issues as any given situation becomes permanent with regard to the river and water levels. Property values are assessed annually on April 1st and are in large part, related to the physical attributes of any property (land or building); and sales analysis indicating the true "Value" of properties. This is viewed annually by the Town and our contract assessors.
The Attorney's Office working with the dam owner contacted me today. They are interested hearing from buyers, so if the homeowners and neighbors get together to facilitate something like this, do feel free to get in touch as outlined in the letter, with Steve Roberts (or ask for his assistant Diane) at Hoefle, Phoenix, Gormley & Roberts PA (Counsel for Brentwood Dam Ventures LLC) at 603 436 0666.
UPDATE: 07/07/2017 The Town received a copy of a letter that is being distributed to abutters upstream. The letter is from the Attorney representing the Dam Owner, announcing a meeting on July 14th at the attorney's office. Please RSVP through directions in the letter. It is attached below, click on the adobe file.
Lgl Ltr to Abutters - Brentwood Dam Ventures 07072017.pdf
UPDATE: 08/07/2017 Sent in by Charlie Krautmann, NH DES: Attached is the hazard reclassification letter for the Exeter River Dam, D029001 in Brentwood. This has been sent this via email to the Owner and his legal representation, and the Town's of Fremont and Brentwood will receive a hard copy in the next few days.
20170807 D029001 Hazard Reclass.pdf
The NH DES Letter of Deficiency (LOD) related to the dam will be distributed in the next few days.
UPDATE: 08/09/2017 Sent in by Charlie Krautmann, NH DES: Attached is Letter of Deficienty issued for the Exeter River Dam, D029001 in Brentwood. The second photo is the photos taken during the June 14, 2017 inspection. Photos are referred to within the LOD Notice.
20170808 D029001 LOD.pdf
UPDATE: 09/01/2017 The Exeter Squampscott River Local Advisory Committee has partnered with the Towns of Brentwood and Fremont and a team from the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) to provide some research and information relative to the dam and it's future. This partnership is called the Exeter Squampscott River Education Partnership or ESREP. They are sending a letter out this week to owners of property in the vicintiy of the dam reagarding UMB students and faculty who will be visiting local homes and businesses in the Riverside Drive and Tibbetts Road neighborhoods on Saturday September 9, 2017 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. They are surveying residents on their questions
regarding the Mill Road Dam (in Brentwood). They are trying to be sure that residents questions are answered in preparation for a public information forum.
ESREP will be hosting a community information meeting on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at the Brentwood Community Center from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. At this meeting, the public will have access to the best available information regarding the pros and cons of dam preservation from many of New Hampshire’s most experienced dam and river experts. The results of this resident survey will help us bring the right experts to answer questions at this meeting. ESREP is also creating a website to provide non-partisan information on the dam and its future: www.illbedammedornot.com
Click the icon below to read the mailer:
ESREP 20170830 Ltr.pdf
They have also set up a facebook links:
UPDATE: 09/27/2017: The Exeter Squampscott River Local Advisory Committee brochure for tonight's program is available below:
Mill Road Dam in Brentwood_final presentation 09272017.pdf
UPDATE 10/10/2017: File below is an email received by the Town the day of the meeting, which has now been scanned and available. This email was read aloud at the Community Forum.
UPDATE 09/12/2018: File attached above (20180906 NH DES Adm Ord Bwd Dam.pdf) is a letter the Town received on 09/11/2018 and contains a DES Administrative Order to the owner of the Brentwood Dam.
We will post public information as we receive it.
Heidi Carlson, Town Administrator
P: 603 895 2226 x 301
F: 603 895 3149
Posted: 12 June 2017 / Updated 14 June 2017 / Updated 26 June 2017 / Updated 07 July 2017 / 16 July 2017
Updated: 08 August 2017 / 01 September 2017 / 07 September 2017 / 08 FEbruary 2018 / 12 September 2018