Alna dam change moves to 2019

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 2:15pm

    The century-old west abutment at Alna’s Head Tide Dam will stay put this year, an Atlantic Salmon Federation official said Friday. ASF and its partners on the Alna project and two others on the Sheepscot River are now looking to next year for the work Alna nodded in 2017 for the town-owned dam, ASF Vice President of U.S. Programs Andrew Goode said in a phone interview.

    First Selectman Melissa Spinney said Tuesday, she recently got word from Goode the plans had changed to 2019. “It seems to be happening the way it should, and it sounds like it’s following in the right direction,” Spinney said.

    Steps toward the project have taken longer than projected and will push the local, state and federal permit-seeking past the state’s yearly, July 15 to Sept. 30 window for a project, Goode said in the July 20 phone interview and an email response to questions. He said most of the funds are in place; and on July 19 in Alna’s neighbor Whitefield, another of the projects to aid fish passage on the river got under way, removal of Coopers Mills Dam.

    “It’s satisfying to see it move into the implementation phase,” Goode said. ASF, Midcoast Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Maine also plan a new fishway at China’s Branch Pond.

    Final design work continues on the Alna project and should be done by summer’s end, Goode said. Then ASF will start seeking permits from the Alna Planning Board, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

    The foundation has the contract with Alna, so will be the sole applicant, Goode explained. ASF agreed to do the project at no cost to the town.

    “As part of the design process this past winter, NOAA Fisheries required more extensive modeling of the hydraulics through the new opening. This was to give them the confidence they needed that the flows through the opening during the spring migration window would be low enough to pass all species of fish,” Goode wrote the Wiscasset Newspaper. “The additional modeling was completed to their satisfaction and now Interfluve and Kleinschmidt have turned their full attention to the construction aspects of the design.”

    ASF hired Interfluve to design the engineering and landscaping, Goode said. The firm hired Kleinschmidt as a subcontractor to help evaluate structural aspects of the dam and the planned viewing platform that will replace the abutment, he said.

    Plans also call for grading the parking area, adding signage, making the path to the swimming hole safer and possibly putting in racks for kayaks and canoes, Goode added.

    Goode approached the town in 2015 offering to explore a project. Selectmen negotiated a contract after getting voters’ OK at town meeting in March 2017.