Town officials in Bellingham have started work to remove the Old Mill Dam along the Charles River.
Demolishing the dam will increase public safety while improving river habitat and water quality, officials said. When the dam is removed, fish and other aquatic wildlife, as well as nutrients and organic materials, will be able to move freely between the Charles River and three of its tributaries, including Mine Brook.
The dam, which is owned by the town and is located off Pearl Street, is a hazard and would cost more than $1 million to repair.
“The dam is a liability for the town,” said Bellingham Department of Public Works Director Donald DiMartino. “It is not only a cause of constant concern as we fear an untimely breach, but requires costly periodic inspections.”
This project is being led by the town, with funding support from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and technical assistance from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration and the Charles River Watershed Association.
The association supports the project and hopes it will serve as an example for future dam removal and environmental restoration projects on the Charles River.
“We applaud the Town of Bellingham — the first town in the watershed to begin a dam removal project — for their initiative and willingness to do what is right for the environment and the town,” said Bob Zimmerman, the organization’s executive director.