An old granite dam might play an
essential role in flood prevention for Leeds.
Up until the nineteen eighties the Upper Roberts Dam off Chesterfield Road was a forgotten orphan of the water department. You get a glimpse of the pond through the trees as you go by, but the dam itself is almost invisible to the passer-by. In 1987, State inspectors for the Department of Office of Dam Safety rated the dam as in “poor” condition, and following a big Northeaster that almost blew out an old dam in the Attleboro area, the State began to ratchet up its attention to older dams that could jeopardize people’s lives and properties in case of heavy rains. And then in 2005 the enforcement and mitigation responsibility was shifted from the State to the owners, a clever move that took the responsibility for fixing old dams away from the state. The State of Massachusetts held private owners and towns and cities accountable for dealing with dams that are potentially dangerous, and told them they were going to have to come up with a plan for dealing with dam failure emergencies and come up with a strategy for either repairing these dams or tearing them out. At some point in 2005, Northampton DPW staff got fed up with demands from Boston to fix the dam, and decided to go for federal and state money and demolish it. Its Director, Ned Huntley, told me that the city has responsibility for too many old dams that are no longer useful to the water supply system. Read the full article here