Middle Dam
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Author:  AusableWulff [ March 1st, 2019, 3:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Middle Dam

Middle Dam Public Hearing Update

Tuesday, March 19th
Public Hearing
Mountain Valley High School, Rumford Maine
Snow Date: Thursday, March 21st
Public Session starts at 5:00 pm
Technical Session starts at 12:30 pm

The technical session is for the applicant, intervenors, and other parties granted status by the LUPC to present to the LUPC; it is open to everyone to attend and observe.

The Public Session is when anyone may stand up and be heard; we are encouraging everyone who has ever recreated at Middle Dam to come and speak up, letting the LUPC know just how important a natural resource this area is.

Want to send a written statement to voice your concerns and let Maine Land Use Planning Committee know how important Middle Dam is to you?

Send by mail: Maine Land Use Planning Commission, 22 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0022
Send by email: bill.hinkel@maine.gov

Rebuilding Middle Dam will change the way of life on Rapid River.

The rebuild of the Middle Dam, although necessary, will change a historic structure that has been used by thousands of fisherman and visitors alike throughout the years. South Arm Campground is one of only two commercial entities on the lake, and the only campground; fisherman and visitors alike have come to enjoy the peace and solitude of fly fishing or just sitting on the bank watching the rhythmic swing of a fly fisherman casting. If extreme care is not taken by all parties involved in the dam rebuild to keep this tradition alive and functioning, a great treasure will be lost.

There will be two phases: first, the 5 year period of disruption during construction, and second, the post-construction reality of a very different dam and river environment. Safety, preservation of the fishery, and access are key to a successful process.

Learn more about the project and view all publicly available documents on the Maine Land Use Planning Committee website for Hydropower Permit 30 - Middle Dam Renewal. Brookfield has until February 15th to file a revised plan, this will be posted on the website. Click the button below. You can sign up for official notifications from LUPC on the website below.

LPUC Middle Dam Renewal Website

Background Information


DURING CONSTRUCTION. The water which flows from the lake into the river presently comes through several gates, across the entire width of the dam. For the 5 years of construction, all of that water will instead only be channeled through an auxiliary spillway, located on the north side of the dam. The same amount of water which always flows into the river will be forced through a narrower channel, creating an effect like a fire hose. The flow will be primarily along the north bank of the river and will create a force which will likely be dangerously unwadeable.

POST CONSTRUCTION. When construction is finished there will be limited ability to fish off the dam. There is a plan for ACB, articulated concrete blocks, a mat of smooth composite blocks in front of the dam, held together by metal bars, in place of traditional rip-rap. The water by the dam will be relatively shallow, so it will be possible to wade and fish in front of the gates. When I asked if there would be any vegetation, I was told it could grow between segments of the matting. Experience tells us there will likely be some vegetation which will cling to it, just as it does to the rocks in the water. So we will be invited to wade on a shallow, smooth, slippery surface, in order to have fishing access near the dam. When the dam is built, water releases will be controlled electronically and remotely. The last resident dam keeper would sound the siren for dam releases, and also go out on the river to ensure that everyone knew a release was coming. The present dam keeper is dedicated and conscientious, but if he has to manage three different, widely-spaced locations, will he always be on site when the decision is made in Lewiston to call for a water release?

Preservation of the fishery

The Rapid River is a catch and release river. This means keeping the caught fish in water as much as possible, and getting them back into the river as quickly as you can. The piers on the present dam provided that opportunity because we could reach down to the water, or step onto adjacent rocks, to release fish as we were supposed to. In 2013 that changed, because the fencing required us to use long handled nets, and made the water level rocks off limits and inaccessible. Anyone who is honest will admit we have not been as good at releasing fish unharmed since then, and the fishery has suffered.


The Upper Androscoggin River Storage Projects Settlement Agreement, signed by Union Water Power in 1998, and binding upon successor owners of Middle Dam, requires the parties to maintain “existing Public access and recreational opportunities.” Until 2013, this included the 3 sets of piers on the dam, one of which was recently closed, without explanation. There are pictures taken over the past decades, of many generations of family anglers on the piers. For 30 years Carmen Durso (intervenor) has visited the river, the last 10 from his camp next to the dam, and have seen the piers, and the rocks accessible from them, in use by as many as 10 ‘dry foot’ fishermen. That number increases whenever there are children fishing from the piers with adults. Camp residents and boat visitors to Middle Dam are getting older, like the rest of America. Fishing by wading is possible by many, but not all; it becomes more difficult with age, and with changing conditions at the dam. Our disabled veterans have been fishing from the piers. They will lose that availability, and there are no plans to compensate for that loss. It will be almost impossible to wade near the dam during the five years of construction, and in 5 years we will all be that much older.

A Proposal

Proposed south side of Rapid River viewed looking downstream from Middle Dam.

Proposed north side of Rapid River viewed looking downstream from Middle Dam.

Close up view of proposed north side.

DURING CONSTRUCTION. While the old structure is being torn down, and the new dam constructed, Middle Dam will be surrounded, on both lake and river sides, by two coffer dams. The river coffer will form a semicircle around the existing dam piers. All the water flowing into the river will be on the north side of the coffer dam, in a very high volume current. So it is unclear where the water will impact the south side of the river, or whether there will be any fishable water within 50-100 feet of the south side of the coffer. Thus, the prospect is for no fishing on the north side due to the speed of the current, and none on the south side for lack of water.

PROPOSAL. We propose two piers, on the north side of the river, and on the south. The north pier would be sufficiently down river, out into the stream, so fishing can be conducted without regard for the force of the stream. The pier will have a floating, L-shaped dock, anchored at the ends by fiberglass posts, allowing it to rise and fall, as the level of the river changes. The dock will have a safety railing all around, with openings at the lower level so fish can be landed, and released, at water level. The south pier will be similarly constructed, but with a T-head float. The location will be down stream, and far enough out from shore, so anglers can reach fishable water. Both piers will take fishermen out of the water during the 5 year period when that area of the river will be the most variable and dangerous. In the picture below, it is the pier which is further away. The nearest pier would be built after construction is complete.

POST-CONSTRUCTION. After the dam is built, there is uncertainty about the manner in which water will flow through the several gates. In particular, it is unknown how much water will continue to flow through the auxiliary spillway, on the north side of the dam, after the spring runoff, or how much will come through the central overflow area. While Brookfield has said it will adjust flows to keep sufficient water near the proposed fishing platform, we know two things for sure: (1) the flows will be controlled remotely, not from the site; and (2) the flows will ultimately be determined by the demands for electricity. The area in front of the dam will have a 70-foot riprap, and it is very unclear what that will look like. Noted above is the concept of smooth composite ACB tiles. When that idea was challenged as not being fish friendly – an understandable objection since there would be no cover – we were told it could be covered with rocks. That would defeat the idea of this large area near the dam being accessible by wading, and since it will be 70 feet wide, also leave even wading fishermen with very limited ability to fish near the dam.

PROPOSAL. After construction, install a third pier on the south side, with an L-shaped float, positioned on the river to ensure that it is facing fishable water, and far enough out into the stream so anglers can readily cast to the base of the dam. This is a representation of how the floating docks would appear and function. The rails would provide safety, but also allow anglers to take and release fish through the wider opening at the bottom.

CONCLUSION. These proposals address the loss of access which will occur during and after construction, while preserving access for children, older anglers and the disabled; they will improve significantly the catch and release aspects of the fishery; they will provide places of safety for all who fish these waters.

We hope you will support this proposal by your written comments, and at the Public Hearing on March 19th.

Carmen Durso
Rosanne Zuffante
Bob Thompson
South Arm Campground

South Arm Campgrounds non-opposition is due to understanding this project is driven by federal licensing mandate FERC. South Arm does, however, oppose issuing the permit at this time on the grounds that Brookfield has not demonstrated a completed planning process. In the interest of economic impact, there is too much risk to the state as a whole to open the door to them for a plan as they go approach to the public interface. Not just the dam, but the surrounding area accessed via the dam infrastructure. Access to which is protected by Maine Laws governing both Great Ponds and Significant River Segments. We hope the Middle Dam rebuild can be accomplished in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to preserve a unique piece of history and pristine fishing area while providing access for all.

Author:  cdc [ March 1st, 2019, 5:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

I will soundly voice my support for this ..but ..and not to be a Debbie downer .. basically all of what has been proposed here was in some way shape or form proposed for upper Dam ..I had long conversations with Robert van Ryper the regional Bio back then ..he showed me maps and drawings of proposed piers ,and stations and all this good stuff that they were negotiating ..all that effort and all that time ,and what we got was Brookfield saying , umm let me see umm NO ! but thanks for asking...so what we have is now a upper dam with no fishing stations nothing even remotely close to the dam and the few times I have been there since its completion just way! way! to many people jockeying for limited places to fish.. in fact a local guide when asked about how the fishing was on a particular day in June he said from what he heard fishing was real good ,but he just refused to go in or take clients in because it was just way too crowded ..those stations and the area around the rip wrap could accommodate 8-12 more anglers in a pinch if need be just saying

I wish you luck !

Author:  savageriver [ March 1st, 2019, 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

Will the new dam be able to increase cooler water flows in the summer mouths?

Author:  Jeff Reardon [ March 1st, 2019, 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

I have been following this pretty closely.

A revised application and design plans are available, posted about 2 weeks ago, here: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/projects/hp_30_middle_dam_renewal/hp30.html

Scroll down to a filing from Brookfield on Feb 12.

There was a meeting today with Brookfield, signatories to the 1998 Settlement Agreement (TU and RLHt), US FWS, ME DIFW, and Friends of Richardson to discuss habitat restoration in the area that will be disturbed.

I expect there will be a revised filing with additional details about that sometime next week.

I encourage everyone to attend the hearing and be heard.


Author:  AusableWulff [ March 1st, 2019, 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

Is there a link that shows how Upper Dam looks now? Or in the alternative, does some one have pics of the finished dam they could post? I haven't seen it since the work was done and some information on before/after issues would be helpful in prepping a statement or letter. Thanks

Author:  Jeff Reardon [ March 2nd, 2019, 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

Don't know about a link to a photo of Upper, but it's ugly.

Middle will be a concrete dam. It will not have the "zigzag" spillway that Upper does. It will have gates where the existing gates are, and a new gate on the Lakewood side for floods. Other than the new spillway on the Lakewood side, the footprint of the dam will be about the same as it is now. The sluices that extend downstream from the dam will be gone. There will be a casting platform on the Lakewood side, but it will be quite a bit different from the old ones on the sluices.

Construction is proposed to take 5 years. It sure won't be pretty during construction.

Author:  Rapid S-13 [ March 5th, 2019, 4:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

One pic of Upper Dam at below link. The slight snow cover hides the hideous rip rap boulders some.

https://bdn-data.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs ... er-Dam.jpg

Author:  Jeff Reardon [ March 14th, 2019, 11:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Middle Dam

Sending this to the top.

The day's hearing schedule has been set.

Public session starts at 5 pm. The "technical session" for the applicant and intervenors is at 12:30.

Public is welcome at the daytime session if you want to provide hear what Brookfield and the intervenors have to say.

Here are the full details:

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Location: Muskie Auditorium, Mountain Valley High School, Rumford, Maine
799 Hancock Street, Rumford, ME 04276
Time: Daytime session for Parties: 12:30 p.m.
Evening session for Public: 5:00 p.m.

Daytime Session:
1. Presiding Officer opening statement
2. Swearing in of witnesses
3. Staff introduction
1. Opening statement, project overview, testimony [35 min]
2. Commission questions
3. Cross-examination of Applicant by Intervenors [28 mins (4 minutes each)]
III. INTERVENOR TESTIMONY [80 mins (20 minutes each)]
Hearing Topics:
➢ Environmental and energy considerations, 38 M.R.S. § 636(7)
➢ Safety, 38 M.R.S. § 636(2)
➢ Environmental mitigation, 38 M.R.S. § 636(6)
1. Intervenor Carmen Durso and Rosanne Zuffante
2. Intervenor Friends of Richardson
3. Intervenor South Arm Campground
4. Intervenor Trout Unlimited
1. Commission
2. Applicant [15 mins]
3. Intervenor Carmen Durso and Rosanne Zuffante [5 mins]
4. Intervenor Friends of Richardson [5 mins]
5. Intervenor South Arm Campground [5 mins]
6. Intervenor Trout Unlimited [5 mins]
V. CLOSING STATEMENTS [18 mins (3 minutes each)]
1. Intervenor Carmen Durso and Rosanne Zuffante
2. Intervenor Friends of Richardson
3. Intervenor South Arm Campground
4. Intervenor Trout Unlimited
5. Applicant
6. Presiding Officer closing statement

NOTE: The Applicant and Intervenors with more than one witness will provide testimony and be available for cross-examination as a panel. Cross-examination of Intervenor witnesses will follow the testimony of the witnesses of all the Intervenors. Time allotments may not be reallocated among parties. A party is not obligated to use all its allotment. Commissioners may ask questions at any time.
End of technical hearing session – approximately 4:00 p.m.


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