Pros and Cons for the Mill Dam in Mt. Holly

Below you will find an ever updating dialogue between residents along the Rancocas Creek who are for and against keeping the dam.

You can voice your opinions by emailing them to   rancocas@gmail.com   (your opinions will not be edited except for profanity) and/or by joining/being a member of the "DwellersRancocascreekMtHolly" Yahoo email group by going HERE and submitting your posting.

All opinions will be posted here, the newest postings at the top.

September 30, 2008

"Officials from Burlington County government and 31 municipalities have compiled a plan for working together in the event of a major natural disaster." (you can see this article HERE)

Do you think the RCA can get a copy of this? I wonder how high the bar is set for a "a major natural disaster" where the 31 municipalities are involved. I hope that our small, localized natural disasters (i.e. North Branch flooding) are not given short shrift due to this highly touted mega-plan.

Kevin Tuno does say "the plan highlights vulnerable areas, which can be addressed before a natural disaster strikes to diminish property loss." Hopefully, he is talking about us and the cooperation of all the towns on the Creek. And one more hope: recognition of the best resource we have (now that John is gone) -- NOAA in Westampton.

JA Fittipaldi

September 26, 2008

amazing, this time they did it right!

Dan McGonigle

September 26, 2008

Well, I can only say, right now it seems the dam is being operated quite satisfactorily. The water levels are instantly dropped when the weather forecasts say there'll be a lot of rain. I've lived on the Rancocas for 20 years now, and they seem to be quite on target this season. I'm hopeful it'll continue.

Kerry Sharps

September 26, 2008

Tom,

Believe me, we've been there, John Hennesy was our "look out", for years, didn't make a difference. He was our contact with Kevin Tunio, its all the same s**t, believe me....I've been there. We'll see, as time goes on..........guess your new on the creek, and I guess your not in the flood zone, you have no idea what s**t we have to go through when it floods, and nobody seems to give a f**k, its allways the same story,"well someone has to flood", thats the story from Mt.Holly and Permberton, I'm sick of it myself.....tired of the same old bulls**t........we'll see with time..........thanks for your response!

September 25, 2008

since the gravel bar holds back water and makes us flood on
millcreek(in theory).why does our water level go down only hours
after they open milldam?I think i know, could it be milldam does have
an effect on us .Discuss at will.

Robert Fuelle

September 25, 2008

Dan,

Thanks for your response.

I think our main focus should be on relieving the flooding situation. I think if we approach the situation with an "every little bit helps" attitude, removing the shoal is a sound idea. It's a small step that we can do as a community and if nothing else it will show the city and the county that we mean business. I agree with you about waiting for the spring. I will do what I can to help you organize it but I feel the main thrust of it should come from the Eastampton residents.

As for dealing with both the city and the county, I understand the thirty years of frustration. Governments can be slow to react and do not always abide by agreements. However, I think if we can speak in a unified voice, in a reasonable tone and do this as often as possible, we will eventually make some progress. There are 2 key elements I think we should push for. The first (suggested by Janet Fittipaldi) is installing a hot line between the city, county and the Mount Holly weather station. The second is to get the city as well as the county to accept some form of citizen involvement--perhaps a single person (from Eastampton) who is designated as our "eyes on the ground" and has access to whatever emergency numbers needed to warn of rising levels.

It's a start, and once again, let me volunteer to help in whatever capacity I can. However Dan, I really do believe that this type of discussion would be much more fruitful in the form of an RCA meeting. I don't believe there are any more meetings scheduled for this season (save the annual breakfast) but we can always aim for the spring. In the meantime, if you would like to contact me personally I can always be reached at tomgr40@hotmail.com. I would be more than willing to meet with you to discuss a plan of action.

Thanks,

Tom Greenfield

September 24, 2008

Tom,

Sorry been vacation, unable to reply to you. Look I have no problem keeping the dam, but I'd like it to become a spillway with possibly two gates. I'm on the environmental comm. in eastampton, so I understand the nature of wetlands, etc., I'm also a zoning officier in a # of communities, as well as pinelands review official, so believe me I know about flooding and the causes, as well as the environmental effect of such.

Tom, as much as we have tried, not one community has complied with our written agreement. Pemberton lets out when they feel their residents are about to get flooded, mt. holly doesn't bother to open their gates soon enough to prevent flooding, then when it comes time to really have to open, they don't want too, in fear of flooding downstream. Believe me, after 31 yrs. you get to know the system. If everyone would do the job, I wouldn't be writting this email. I know we're not going to be able to change this. We've tried so many times. Like I've said before, when I first moved here we flooded once every three years, in the last 15 years we've flooded 4-5 times a year. With the gates open, we have not flooded this year (yet).

I have no problem helping to clean out that gravel pit, but doubt that it'll make a change. We'll wait till spring and organize a group of us.

Dan Mcgonigle

September 13, 2008

I agree with Dan on this. We have in the past had written agreements with
both townships , promises from the county and they can not be trusted!!!!
Govt's change hands , priorities change etc, one hand passes it off to the
other; excuse after excuse. I remember When Mrs Rosenthal was RCA
President and that was a longtime ago. the same problem existed then as it
does now, and promises and agreements were reached but NO ONE EVER FOLLOWED
THROUGH EVERYTIME!!!!! I remember a conversation I had when our dear Bill
was in charge of Emergency managment here in Eastampton. HE wanted to open
MT Holly but because a flood happened over weekends or holidays most often
he was not allowed to open the gates, when he was allowed to we did not
flood. I remember serving him coffeee late onee night and it was a weekend
and he could not reach anyone to get permission to open MT Holly!!!! HE was
so frudsstrated!!!!! To me it has gone way beyond working this out with any
goverment official they have said and agreed in writing to do this and
NEVER HAVE!!!! And it goes further back then that, I was born in a cottage
on this creek, and I am 54 my grandparents had two homes on this
creek!!!!. And it was the same then as it is now. Mt Holly, pemb, the
county all made agreements that the gates would be coordinated and then MT
Holly would be opened to let the water out before flooding and guess what
THEY NEVER kept any of their promises or the signed agrrments then I will
never again trust them to do this!!!! And my grandparents bought there
homes on the creek before 1920. And they too belonged to a creek
association at that time there were two separate orgs one for familys above
206 and the other below, and since the owned homes on both sides they were
in both orgs, and I remember quite well there talk after each flood that
the township and officials would do what was necessary but never opened
them in time. Only once was I lucky enogh to have had the gates open to
prevent a flood and that was A christmas Eve when my kids were little, I
did not want to be dealing with a flood on christmas so I called 911 and
guess what the cops came the state cops came and they came to my back yard
the state cops freaked at the site of the water level and got someone up
out of bed and opened the gates in Mt Holly I know they did this as my
husband had the state police follow him to the MT Holly Dam and guess what
we did not flood that christmas the water within an hour started to reced.
IT has gone round and round since 1920 !! And we will never get the
townships to do what is necessary.

April Hughes

September 12, 2008

Re: Web site opinion from John McNamara:

so very true........it would solve all the problems...... if people would do their jobs......but nobody stands by their word........they are all bulls**t, and quick to put the blame on someone else, the county is just as much to blame as Mt. Holly, and it never ends.........it just keeps going around and round............I agree with you John.....you've been here awhile, you know what its all about...........we've been thru this s**t for years, we came up with an agreement with the county/pemberton twp/mt. holly/eastampton, nobody has stand by the agreement, pemberton lets out mirrow lake when they think their residents are threaten by high water, mt. holly never opens their gates in preparation for a flood, the county only deals with it on the weekends, this is the problem, if people would do their jobs.......we'd be ok.......but its not happening...........

Dan Mcgonigle

September 12, 2008

so very true Robert!

Dan Mcgonigle

September 12, 2008

Yes, John, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to listen to the weather (precipitation -- be it rain, snow -- and temperature), look at the moon (the Rancocas is tidal and empties into a tidal Delaware), be recognizant of wind direction (coastal storms do affect us since the headwaters are to the east), look at ambient conditions (rain when there is ice and snow on the ground creates flooding; low water provides storage and high water doesn't), and figure out when we will flood.

NOAA weather is located in Westampton. They have the experts who can weigh all the variables. That info plus the info from those of us upstream to those in control can prevent adverse flooding. The problem is no one taps into these resources.

And, yes, Rob, if management were optimal (i.e. the responsibility of one party, and NOAA and upstream resident input directed the opening/closing), I think we might trust a structure. I suggest that we petition the County and Mt. Holly to draft another agreement and get NOAA involved to commit to actually calling whoever will be in charge, rather than leaving it solely up to the prodding of others.

But there is another issue that might derail this solution: the flooding of Mt. Holly itself, and the "off chance" and downstream complaints when the water is lowered and an event does not pan out. (I believe, this is what Rob is alluding to.) We have been told in the past that the gates would not be opened for fear of flooding Mt. Holly. Perhaps, given the flooding two months ago of Mt. Holly (as Ms. Hoffman stated in one of the news articles, hence the proactive opening of Woolman's Lake this go round - - see, a dam does hold back water), the pipe(s) and inlets in Mt. Holly should be cleaned of sediment and garbage so that stormwater will flow properly. And, yes, we have also been told that downstream complaints about Creek level recovery time does not warrant proactivity because an event "may occur"..."See, so if we open the gates and the rain does not come, the Creek level will take a while to recover."

So, now you can see why DEP does not promote dams; why we have little faith in dams; and why we would like the dam removed.

But, if we can ALL agree on how it should be managed (with empathy towards upstream conditions) and enforce the management, we may support the restoration.

But, one word of caution, one day the dam will be removed. One day, no more band-aids. It will be classified as High Hazard, and it will come out. And it may not be replaced with a spillway. The Creek may just be allowed to find its natural state.

JA Fittipaldi

September 12, 2008

John, you are on the mark about management of the dam. I bought my
house in 2004and i was very aware of flooding here. What i found out
sooner than later was that wasn't our biggest worry .Poor management
of the dam was.I personally called Mr. Tuno numerous times for my fist
two years here and you would not believe all the excuses not to open
the gates(I actually told him they do go up he argued they didn't). SO
you are right about management of the dam.My Question is if the dam
stays and people down stream are happy are we up stream going to be
happy with management.Last week was the first time in the four years
i've been here that EM and MT.holly were proactive with possiable
flooding.

Robert Fuelle

September 12, 2008

I have lived on the creek since 1979 and have been an RCA member since 1980. It has been interesting to read the many different opinions of various people on the conditions of the water level of the creek. But so far no recognized, qualified experts have commented.
My own opinion is that the problems of the creek water levels are caused by a combination of the two main causes mentioned: i.e., the sandbar and the dam and its method of being operated. It is also true, I believe, that we have somewhat different issues between the upper and lower parts of our section of the creek, influenced by differences in elevation and the availability of overflow areas to absorb increased volumes.
But above all, I would like to support the view expressed by Dan McGonigle – we shouldn’t be fighting over this issue: “let’s all be creekers and stand together.”
Personally, I don’t believe a spillway is the answer. Just look at the one at Smithville – what experts, or non-experts, predicted that huge silt island would develop! What’s wrong with keeping the dam but having it efficiently supervised and managed by the township – lowering the dam before and during heavy rains, and raising it in the dry months when there is little rain? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that out! Just good reliable weather information given to a responsible person appointed by the township to operate the dam. Not to set the gates at one level, walk away and not go back for 6 months! It is in my opinion a question of efficient organization by Mount Holly Township. They have after all been providing that sort of attention to the dam over the last 12 months and there has been no flooding of properties. So, repair the dam, put it in good working order and operate the ‘dam’ thing efficiently! Also it is important to ensure that the best up-to-date information is provided by the weather authorities on a regular basis, and promptly.

John McNamara

September 12, 2008

So far, no one has indicated nor determined what the surface water elevation
would be or would need to be if we had a spillway. That is the true
determination as to how much water would be upstream. And, therefore, I think
it is premature to discount the spillway as a remedy.

As for the concern about the fish. The fish don't need to be brought in. The anadromous fish will come on their own as long as they can pass. Bird feathers bring in fish and invasive plants (as do homeowners) so with or without the Dam, there is no control over this concern.

As for the environment, think big for a good analogy of what dams do. What happened to the Tennessee Valley when the TVA came in and built a dam? All the features of that riverine environment were inundated. All the meanders, meander scars, oxbows, braids, meadows, wetlands - - all under water. By keeping the Creek at an artificial level, the same situation exists.

As for the PCBs and other toxins in the silt, even more reason why NOT having
to remove the sediment build-up at the Dam, by using the existing sill, makes
sense to me. With the Dam as the impediment, all the dirty dirt that has been
carried by the Creek water has accumulated there. That is regulated material,
and it will cost to dispose of it.

Dams are passe. The regulatory agencies no longer are issuing dam permits for
restoration or replacements of dams. They recognize that man cannot be counted
on for proper management. Case in point, Mt. Holly Dam; since the big dam breaks
in 2004, Mt. Holly and Burlington County through OEM have been more pro-active, but
the reliance on personalities and personnel availability still exists. It is my understanding that that very old agreement specifies actually when and who has jurisdiction:
the County on the week-end and the town during the week. Weather
doesn't have such boundaries.

Look around. There is now a spillway at Race Street in Vincentown; one is
under construction at Atsion Lake; one was built at Rainbow Lake after the
dam blew-out in Spring '07; one is being designed for Pohatcong Lake in Tuckerton;
and one was constructed at Smithville. These all had gates at one time,
but most are or will be ogee spillways. These require little to no maintenance,
and there is no threat of blow-outs.

Yes, the County had a purchase program and had very limited interest in
purchasing on the right bank. My guess is that they want to continue the
Rails-to-Trails along Railroad Avenue. The canoe trail will still exist with or
without the Dam; there is never any guarantee that you will not need to leave
your vessel to portage. How many Pine Barrens creeks have you canoed/kayaked
that did not require portaging?

JA Fittipaldi

September 12, 2008

Dan,

This plan is in effect removing the dam, and, indeed, it was the plan up until
the experiment (leaving the gates full open) this summer. It was because of
this experiment that the city council decided that the creek levels were too low
to really support any canoeing activity and that the loss of wetlands was too
great that they decided that repairing the dam was the best option. As far as
saving taxpayer's dollars, no one seems to take in to account the removal of
the silt and maintenance of the canoe trail as the banks fail and the trees
fall, the reseeding of native flora as well as stocking the upper creek with
young shad and other native fish. As far as the environmental issues, no one
accounts for the release of PCBs and other toxins (now imbedded in the silt) or
the rise in concentration of pollutants due to the run off from the land fill
and sod farms and the cost of dealing with this. The fact of the matter is
there are very few follow up studies done after a dam is removed but there are
some records of some very unpleasant consequences. There have been large
fish-kills and invasive plant species have been known to take over the newly
exposed mud flats and choke out the native flora. Creeks and rivers have
re-routed themselves, new flood planes are sometimes created and, yes, the loss
of environment means a loss of wildlife (just ask the polar bears). As for the
threat of lawsuits, yes, the city of Mount Holly is responsible (though it's
operation is managed by Burlington County); the fact that you live in a
designated flood plane, are located 3 1/2 miles upstream of the dam, the
presence of that (dam) shoal and a split in the responsibility for the dam would
make it a difficult case. On top of this Burlington County has put in place a
program which offered to buy your properties. They also plan to oversee and
regulate all the septic systems... seems to me that they are already moving
toward resolving the problem of flooding.

With that said:

It seems to me that your argument is not for or against any environmental issues
but rather, simply put, a flooding issue. It is not for or against the dam but
rather the poor management we have seen in the past. If you are truly open to
working together as "creekers" and would sincerely like to reach a compromise
why don't we work together to help solve the real problem. We could start by
petitioning and working with the city of Mount Holly and Burlington County to
take a serious look at their management plan and resolve whatever communication
problems they are having. We could make it a policy to lower the level of the
creek by 2 or 3 feet during the high flow seasons ( early spring and late fall).
If we were to fully open the gates for a few weeks every spring it would help
flush out the creek and gradually remove some of the silt build up.

Another positive action we could take together is to put a small army of
volunteers together (15- 20), armed with nothing more than some 5 gallon pails
and shovels to help remove the shoal. ( I know the shoal seems to be a bone of
contention. I can't find a way to explain how it works like a bottleneck in the
creek but trust me, it is having an effect on your situation. ) The shoal is not
that large and I figure it would take 15-20 people about 2 weekends to remove
the sand and gravel from the creek and deposit it on the island next to it. We
would have to work with the Burlington County Parks Department (perhaps they
could supply a few men) but you don't have to be a he-man to lift a bucket half
full of gravel -- just determined. I'm sure you will find that the "creekers"
, both upstream and down, would be willing to help. I for one promise to be
there. If this seems like a workable approach to you, then perhaps you wouldn't
mind helping to organizing it. Just think of it as an old style barn raising,
and perhaps April and Janet wouldn't mind helping us navigate through any
agencies we would need to get permission from (if any) as well as keeping us on
track environmentally.

I think this two-fold approach might help resolve your issue. If so I am
looking forward to working with you. There is nothing we can't accomplish if we
are willing to work as one cohesive "creeker's" community.

Thanks,

Tom Greenfield

September 11, 2008

The compromise is allowing the creek to restore to its natural status, therefore not allowing us, meaning; Permberton/Mt. Holly/ or the County of Burlington to interfere with the flow of the waterway. I know we'll still flood......but at least it won't be the fault of any township nor the county, it's the only way out of this............think about it

Daniel Mcgonigle

September 11, 2008

I'm not sure how this is a compromise. When the plan to remove the dam was
first proposed the Army Corps of Engineers, it was suggested that the gates be
removed, the abutments be removed and a 2' deep notch be cut in the sill. It
sounds like it is the same thing. The creek would wind up being 2' lower than
it was this summer when all the gates were fully opened. Where is the
compromise?

Tom Greenfield

September 11, 2008

Dan has a geat idea, and it is a great compromise. In fact, since everyone purports to be pro-environment, tenets of the "green building" initiative could be implemented. Remove the Dam's gates, piers, and some of the abutments, but leave the concrete sill in place to act as the spillway. Notch the sill so it will act as a fish ladder.

This would save a great amount of hard costs since the Dam would not need to be reconstructed; the sediment build-up behind the dam would not need to be removed and properly disposed of; and the future maintenance that the Dam would require is eliminated. It would also greatly reduce soft costs as the spillway would not need to be "manned" so there would be no associated salaries.

We would still flood - - we have never stated that we would be "flood free" - - but not to the degree we experience now. Understand that "flooding" is a relative term for us: 1' of standing water is easier to handle than 7'.

Don, gravel bars, deltas, ox-bows, etc. are all part of normal, healthy stream morphology. Gravel bars are dynamic and come and go so that removal of that one location by Goodens' may not have any effect, if indeed it has an effect now (the channel is not blocked there), since another bar would form somewhere else on the creek as the flow picks up and drops its load.

JA Fittipaldi

September 11, 2008

I've been a member of the RCA for over 27 years, I've lived on the creek for over 31 yrs., when I first moved here we flooded once every three years, within the last 10 to 15 years we have flooded at least 5 times a year. I know it is due to the over-development of our county, and the lack of control of the dams. I have been a past president of the RCA, and I was involved with the agreement with Pemberton Twp/Mt.Holly/ and the County, which to date, no one has abided bye. It's allways the same story!

This year is the first year in the last 10 -15 yrs. that we have not flooded. That's because the gates were left open. I don't know who Don Maurer is, but Don you don't have the experience of 31 years on the creek, so don't tell me it's because of a simple sand/gravel bar in the creek, cause its not. It's because of the lack of control of the dams, and Permberton doing what they want to protect their residents.

If you don't want the Mt. Holly dam to be removed, then lets go for a spillway similar to Eastampton. Thats the only way to solve this issue. We'll still flood, and I understand that, we do live in the flood zone. But, it doesn't have to happen so much.....it's got to come to an end.

We shouldn't be "fighting" over this issue, its simple to solve! We are all residents on the creek. The RCA was started to provide us electric, and now its a creek homeowners organization. But, lets all be "creekers", and stand together on this issue. Otherwise we'll be divided, and thats not what the RCA was about.

Daniel Mcgonigle

September 10, 2008

we have never flooded with the flood gates opened and by opened i mean
when they are up so the water flows under.don it seems your the one
with the anecdotes.have a nice day

Robert Fuelle

September 08, 2008

the definition of a dam is all any one would need.don't you realize
the powers that be are only gone to hear us not do what anyone wants
.their decision has already been made about mill dam it's just none of
us know it. So good luck in the court of politics.

Robert Fuelle

September 08, 2008

Good luck proving your case in a court of law.

Don Maurer

September 08, 2008

definition of dam : a barrier (as across a stream) to STOP THE FLOW OF
WATER!DON I'm sorry but you are way off on YOUR analogy

Robert Fuelle

September 07, 2008

The flooding is not caused by the dam. The gravel bar at by thr Gooden's property is the shallowest part of the creek from Mount Holly (and probably from the Delaware) to that point. That means that it is the highest point in the river bed up to that point. It wouldn't matter if Niagra Falls was downstream of the gravel bar. As long as the gravel bar exists property upstream will flood - with or without the dam. In all of your anecdotal examples of flooding when the dam gates are closed (you never seem to talk about the times when you flood when the gates are open which happens much more frequently) the gravel bar has always been in place. It has probably also gotten higher over the years which may account for the greater frequency in flooding in recent years. But as long as the gravel bar is in place there is no valid evidence that the dam is causing any flooding in Eastampton.

Don Maurer

September 07, 2008

The gates were opened on Wednesday in advance of the rain today. We did not flood in Eastampton. There is a cause and effect associated with the operation of the dam and the potential of flooding in Eastampton. This cannot be denied.

Janet A. Fittipaldi

September 07, 2008

The dam should be removed. As an archeologist, I am quite aware as to the function of a water power system to power a mill. The dam is built to hold back water and create an impoundment in order to produce the head, or fall, to power a wheel, which in turn powers a mill. There is no mill in Mt. Holly to power any more. If the dam were removed, the Creek would return to as close its original condition as it can. It can never return to pre-contact conditions due to the over building that has occurred, but it would be given a chance to restore itself to a more natural condition. (They say that approximately one foot of sediment has been added to a South Jersey waterway per century due to farming and other conditions. That's at least three feet of sediment since the 1700s.) And don't be concerned that the flora and fauna will be extirpated. The birds and animals will move along the Creek to find suitable habitat; they will not die - - they will move. There are still beavers and herons and eagles and Kingfishers and geese using the Creek. I see them everyday.

Since the gates have been opened (essentially representing a non-dam condition), we in Eastampton have not flooded during rain events. The artificial environment that has been created by the dam has caused a great amount of property damage, particularly in the recent years with the over development of the Rancocas drainage. One cannot compare the conditions in the 1930s through 1960s with the current state. This is because uncontrolled development of the uplands has occurred. The water running off these properties can no longer go into the ground to recharge the aquifer so it goes directly into the Creek, causing erosion, sedimentation build-up, and flooding. Only recently, has the DEP begun to require synchronization of this stormwater through regional management (in other words, there is acknowledgement that what occurs in Pemberton affects those in Eastampton and Mt. Holly). But this management is not required to capture water pre-2004. We on the Creek suffer from this uncontrolled deluge.

I understand that I live in a floodplain. I understand what a floodplain does. What I object to is the over taxing of the floodplain by man's alteration, i.e. over building and man-operated structures. The dam should be removed; it no longer serves the purpose for which it was intended.

Janet A. Fittipaldi
Environmental Specialist-Archeology
NJDOT

 

August 26, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

April,

I’m glad to be having a dialogue with a biologist and state naturalist who lives in the area. I think having this dialogue in a public forum will help educate those of us who live along the Rancocas Creek, and as long as we can keep it civilized I believe it will serve to help everyone make up their minds about the dam. With that in mind, perhaps you wouldn’t mind addressing some of my questions and concerns about the possible removal of the Mill Dam and it’s effect on the local environment.

Please understand that I am sincere in asking. I have been trying to research the effect of dam removal on the environment and I cannot seem to find any in-depth follow up studies. What I do find is glossed over articles full of promises but no real data to back them up and most of these seem to differ greatly from my personal observations during the 4 month period of having the dam open. I’m hoping you can answer some of my questions.

During the period when the gates were opened I notice the 4 ponds in my area were completely drained. Usually I can spot a few heron and egrets feeding in these wetlands as well as a few beavers. These ponds also seem to serve as a stop over for the Canadian geese during their annual migration. However, during the township’s experiment I did not spot a single egret or heron, nor did I see any geese. The beavers seemed to move out onto the creek and busied themselves cutting down small brush and trees (I have no idea if this was in preparation for a dam of their own). I had also always thought that these ponds were necessary for the fish to spawn and this is where the young fish live (out of the current) until they mature. With these ponds drained will the fish still be able to spawn in the area?

I also noticed that the creek had gone from being approximately 60’ wide and 8’ – 9’ deep behind my house to 12’ wide and only 3 ½’ deep. I am told if the dam is removed and a slot is cut into the sill (for fish migration) I can expect another 2’ drop. This would leave the creek with a depth of 18” and only 6’ or 7’ foot wide. Is this enough water to support shad migration? Do they require the wetlands in order to spawn? I also cannot understand how taking away the wetlands will increase the wildlife population. I have come across this statement countless numbers of times and it seems to go against my common sense. I had always thought that there was direct correlation between the size of any given habitat and the amount of wildlife it could support. Could you please explain the reasoning behind this statement?

I hope you can find the time to answer some of my questions and perhaps post a few links where the information is available. I’d like to thank you for the comments you have already posted and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Tom Greenfield

August 26, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

As a matter of fact I am a member of the RCA but Sundays are impossible for
me to attend. In fact Claudia Mcnamara is a relative of mine.

And I respectfully disagree with you.
Some of what I wrote to all officials is contained here.

I also have many other reasons that I believe it is in the best interest
that the dam should be removed, not just the flooding. I wrote an extensive
letter to MT Holly detailing all of my reasons quite sometime ago. I have
been a Naturalist for the State of Nj and my degree is in Biology. Our
natural landscape has changed dramatically over 100's of years. Forests
were cleared, swamps and wetlands were drained and cities were built. Even
the landscape linked with our waterways has been changed by the
construction of dams. Hundreds of them in fact. Most of these dams were
built between 1900 and 1955, with construction activity reaching its peak
in 1914.

Today, many of these dams have deteriorated because of age, erosion, poor
maintenance, flood damage and poor designs. And many of them no longer
serve any useful purpose and Mt Holly is top on our states list of a failed
dam, and the dam has no useful purpose, it does not provide electricity,
nor does it provide water for agriculature nor is it a major waterway for
transportation, or lumbering.

The NJ Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division believes dam
removal is an integral component of successful waterway management and
provides substantial waterway restoration benefits. Removal eliminates the
expenses of future maintenance and repairs, improves public safety and
provides several ecological benefits,the Fisheries Division routinely
provides support and technical assistance to dam owners interested in dam
removal because it is an excellent way to improve water quality, fisheries
habitat and recreational use. Yes the recreational use will actually
increase!!!!

Dams cause significant adverse impacts to the ecology of waterways by
blocking migration of fish to upriver spawning habitat; warming water
temperatures in impoundments well above downstream conditions and
accumulating sediment, which degrades water quality and often buries high
quality fisheries habitat.

Dam removal, on the other hand, restores the natural flowing character of
the water and restores essential ecological processes in the water. Large
segments of previously inaccessible water may be open to use by a variety
of fish species. In addition, dam removal and sediment management can
restore buried fish spawning habitat and other critical stream habitat.
Dams that are no longer operational, like the Mt Holly Dam that stand in
disrepair, or are not removed are at significant risk of failure,
particularly during high flow events

Removal of the dam restores continuity of the Rancocasr allowing upstream
and downstream fish passage It will allow the natural transport of water
and sediment which are needed to maintain a healthy and properly
functioning water system. The water above the dam carries a high bedload
of sand because of its steep, sandy banks , This sand gradually filled the
original creek behind the dam, and the Corps of engineers refuse to dredge;
there recomendation sometime ago was to remove the dam, but what ever is
decided they will not even consider dredging, and this is one of the causes
of flooding, Somewhere I have paperwork from when the Army Corps of
engineers made there decision and recomendation of dam removal. if the dam
were not there this would not be an issue as the waterway would revert to
its pristine condition.

By removing the dam in stages, it will allow the creek and associated
sediment to stabilize, thereby reducing fish and wildlife impacts

There are numerous benefits associated with the removal of the My Holly
Dam, including the restoration of over miles of creek and improved water
quality

The great news is that when a waterway returns to a more natural condition
very rapidly after a dam is removed, if done properly It’s not unusual to
hear of fish returning to use a stream within weeks of it being opened up
after a dam removal. It’s fantastic to see people using the water again too.

And please do not tell me that the recreation value will diminish. I was
able to canoe twice to Mt Holly during the time that the water level was
lowered. With the dam gone it would take a few months but the water level
will actually increase naturally.

Dam removal can eliminate a public safety hazard, relieve MT Holly the dam
owner of financial and legal burdens and restore the creek to a healthier,
free-flowing condition.

Economic and Public Safety Issues. The cost of keeping a dam safe,
particularly when the dam is no longer serving an economic function, can
represent a significant burden to a dam owner. Dam ownership requires an
on-going financial responsibility. Sometimes, the costs of operation and
maintenance, liability protection, annual registration fees and other
obligations of dam ownership may outweigh the benefits derived from the
dam. Studies show that repairing a dam can often cost three times more than
removing that dam. In addition, there are many potential funding sources,
both public and private, that can help offset the cost of dam removal and
associated river restoration projects, while funding sources to offset the
costs of dam repair or reconstruction are currently far less available

Many dams as I stated were built during the Industrial Revolution in the
19th and early 20th centuries, and they played central roles in economic
and societal growth during that period. But as technological and societal
needs have changed, so too has the need for dams.

Some dams and their impoundments enable and enhance valued recreational
uses, such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The Mt Holly Dam only has
limited canoeing use today. A smaller number of Dams provide important
services such as fire protection Mt holly dam is not one of these,
hydropower production ,water supply, and flood control But some dams, like
the Mt Holly Dam is too old, unsafe and uneconomical, and is a good
candidate for removal.

Below is taken from my previous letter to MT Holly Township & our
congressman and our County Freeholders.

Dam removal will eliminate a public safety hazard, relieve My Holly's
financial and legal burdens and restore the creek to a healthier,
free-flowing condition.

The Benefits o:

Eliminates a public safety hazard.

Provides cost savings to taxpayers and dam owners (both short and
long-term).

Improve water quality.

Eliminates barriers to fish and other aquatic species.

Restores historic habitats.

Creates new, water-based recreational opportunities.

Improves opportunities for creek front revitalization.

Economic and Public Safety Issues.

The cost of keeping a dam safe, particularly when the dam is no longer
serving an economic function, can represent a significant burden to a dam
owner. Dam ownership requires an on-going financial responsibility.
Sometimes, the costs of operation and maintenance, liability protection,
annual registration fees and other obligations of dam ownership should
become paramount to taxpayers. Studies show that repairing a dam can
often cost three times more than removing that dam. In addition, there are
many potential funding sources, both public and private, that can help
offset the cost of dam removal and associated river restoration projects,
while funding sources to offset the costs of dam repair or reconstruction
are currently far less available.

Environmental Issues. Dams can have many ecological impacts on waterways.
They can block fish and other aquatic species from moving throughout the
water system to access spawning sites and other critical habitats. Dams
hold back and cause the build-up of sediment, woody debris and other
materials that would have naturally been distributed throughout the
waterway, playing important roles in providing nutrients and habitat for
plants and animals downstream. Dams increase water temperatures and
decrease dissolved oxygen availability in impoundments, forcing many native
species out because they can't live under these conditions. Dams also flood
wetlands, floodplain forests and other ecosystems that naturally occur
along the river's edge and serve valuable purposes.

The act of removing a dam may seem like a radical event to a wATERWAY and
the species that live in it, but WATERWAYS have proven themselves to be
very resilient and able to "heal" quickly, based upon many dam removals
that have taken place nationwide. Previously submerged lands revegetate
rapidly, typically within a few weeks during the growing season. Fish
populations and species diversity commonly increase in the restored stretch
of water within the first year after a dam is removed. Significant water
quality improvements are often seen in a similarly short amount of time,
depending upon river conditions.

Social Issues. Many dams and their impoundments provide valuable and
treasured recreational opportunities. But the act of removing My Holly dams
can create new, river-based recreational opportunities - from restored
sport fisheries to paddling to wildlife watching. "Rediscovering" the asset
of a free-flowing, healthy creek may lead to community creekfront
revitalization, new businesses and enhanced tourism.
And like it or not MT Holly can be sued for associated damage and my
attorney told me that I had to properly & LEGALLY REMIND THEM OF THEIR
LIABILITY. And if we the home owners who suffered damage like we did in
05; I and several of my neighbors will be forced to hold the owners of the
dam libel.

April Hughes

 

August 26, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

Sorry but you are wrong. I have photos of the dAM IN mT hOLLY that are
date stamped and when we flooded on April 5, 05 the dam gates were
completely CLOSED!!!!!! ND ONLY ONE GATE WAS THEN OPENED A DAY LATER!!!!!!
Had Mt Holly opened them a week before to allow the water to leave when it
did rain we would not have flooded.

April Hughes

 

August 25, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

it was april 2oo5 i was refering to

Robert Fuelle

 

August 25, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

April,

I understand your anger and frustration with the flooding situation, however, I’m not sure if threatening the city of Mount Holly with lawsuits is the right approach. I think it may be more constructive if we focused on finding the reason why your properties flood. We can argue whether it is the fault of the dam or the bottleneck shoal across from the Gooden’s residence until we are all blue in the face, but until we understand the root of the problem it makes little sense to take any drastic action. I would hate to see the dam removed, the ponds drained and the recreational activities ended, only to find out that it has not resolved your problem. Perhaps the county or city could be petitioned to study the problem first. It is quite possible that simply dredging a section of the Rancocas will help. I hope you understand that any person who chooses to live next to any creek or river runs the risk of flooding. Your properties are not unique and we residents living downstream have also experienced flooding in the past. Removing the dam is no guarantee against future flooding. Creeks and rivers regularly run over their banks. May I suggest that
you contact the RCA and maybe attend one of our meetings to voice your concerns. I think you find that we are decent and reasonable people. Maybe together we can find a solution that will keep all parties relatively happy.

Thank you,

Tom Greenfield

August 24, 2008 Re: mill dam has a direct effect

Robert,

I'm afraid you can't blame the flooding on April 5th on the dam. The gates of the dam were completely opened in March and left completely opened until July 18 when they ever so slowly began to close them. They were not completely closed until August 7. March and April are typically the months of greatest flow on the creek. It is not surprising that a small amount of rain could raise the level above Paducah to cause minor flooding. Flooding above Paducah is caused by downstream flow and runoff. Since most of the trees have not sprouted new leaves in early April there is nothing to soak up the runoff. Keep in mind that water is flowing downstram from the East, so an inch of rain locally is not necessarily a good indicator of how much rain falls to the East of us.

Don Maurer

August 24, 2008  RE: [DwellersRancocasCreekMtHolly] mill dam has a direct effect

I can not agree with you more. Robert. When Mt Holly did there recent experience we got 3 inches of rain and no flooding when it rained April 05
it was only 1 inch of rain and we flooded badly because Mt Holly NEVER
opened the Dam. As a State Naturalist it is much better for the
environment to eliminate the Dam entirely and late nature reclam itself.
It is not like this dam provides power or agriculatural needs. Currently
the feelings within DEPE is that the best thing for fish & wildlife & all
the flora & fauna is to dismantle Dams

And I am one of the Eastampoton residents that will sue MT Holly if I ever
flood again. In my last email to Mr Tuno I provided him with the statue
that let him know that Mt Holly is totally responsible if we flood it is a
drain on tax payer money. And I am contacting my congressional reps on the
advice of my attorney IGor Sturm letting Mt Holly Township know of their
responsibility to all residents upstream of the Dam not just thsoe select
few who are not affected by the floods who live in Mt Holly

April Hughes

August 24, 2008   mill dam has a direct effect

we had three inches of rain a couple weeks ago no flooding comparedto April 05 one inch of rain and flooding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Fuelle

August 21, 2008 Flooding in Eastampton by Don Maurer

If the experiment of opening Mill Dam this Spring and Summer proved anything, it proves that Mill Dam has no effect on water levels above the beginning of Paducah Lane. While the properties closest to the dam experienced extremely low water levels, ponds drying up and contraction of the creek to a fraction of it's normal width and depth, the effect upstream was relatively minor. This is because the water level upstream of Paducah lane is controlled solely by the
flow over Smithville Spillway and local runoff. For the past couple of weeks all of the gates at Mill Dam have been completely shut as well as the gate controlling flow through the Mill race. The creek below Paducah Lane is at a normal level. Above Paducah lane the levels are comparatively low because of the normally low flow rate of the creek during the Summer months and the lack of significant rainfall recently.

There is a gravel shoal or sandbar in the creek opposite the Gooden's property. Currently it is impassable in a canoe or kayak except at the extreme outside edges. This means that the gravel bar can be no lower in elevation than the gates at Mill Dam when they are completely closed. It is this gravel sandbar that causes the
water to back up during a storm.

Residents of Eastampton who are concerned about flooding would do well to petition the Department of Environmental Protection, Burlington County Emergency Management and the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the gravel sand bar. This will control minor flooding upstream. In the event of a major flood, there is so much water coming downstream and from runoff that nothing short of raising the houses on footings will prevent flooding.

Don Maurer