Abutment down: Head Tide Dam update

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 8:45am

Part of Alna’s concrete, century-old Head Tide Dam became history last week, and on Monday continued being pulled off the Sheepscot River. And the dam, the site and the fish and people who traverse it will all be better off with all that follows, according to project manager Maranda Nemeth of Midcoast Conservancy.

Nemeth took questions yesterday from the Wiscasset Newspaper and three visitors involved with the conservancy. From the Head Tide Road bridge and then, for a closer look, the riverbank opposite where an excavator was scooping the abutment’s remains, Nemeth discussed progress and shared some predictions based on models of the project.

“It’s really fascinating to see,” said Edgecomb’s Emma Cipriani of the conservancy’s outdoor adventure team.

Teammate Yasmin Libardi of Whitefield said she was especially glad the project will help the fish get through. “I think it’s great.”

The Alna man working the excavator felt similarly about the project. “I think it’ll make everything a lot better there,” contractor Jeff Verney said in a phone interview hours later. “It was time for a change.”

Nemeth said there have been no surprises, and she is “very confident” the project will not disturb the rest of the concrete dam. The project should extend its life, she said.

That’s because the wider, deeper opening of the new viewing platform replacing the abutment will mean less water spilling over the dam, wearing on it, Nemeth explained. With the changes, spilling should happen only in much more severe conditions than it has taken before, she said. Plus, branches and similar debris will be less likely to get caught up in the dam; a tree still could, she added.

Excavation continues. The next big step will be pouring the concrete for the viewing platform, Nemeth said.

The project that also includes walking paths, benches and signage is set to end this fall, Nemeth said. Feedback from passers-by has been largely positive, she said. Some comments have been about missing the swimming hole this season due to the project, Nemeth said. 

“But overall it’s been supportive and people are excited for the end result.”