The dam the Spruce Island village depends on for power and drinking water suffered serious damage in late March following heavy rains. Ouzinkie Mayor Dan Clarion said the reservoir was drained to relieve pressure.
“We’re forced to run our big generators,” he said. “It’s pretty expensive.”
The Department of Natural Resources required the installation of a bypass to lower the level of the reservoir after an inspection of the rotting wooden structure last year, Clarion said, but this most recent damage may have closed the window on its usefulness.
According to an email from Clarion, “While lowering the level of the dam can temporarily relieve the pressure behind the structure the bypass and spillway have demonstrated an inability to handle major precipitation events meaning that as long as the dam is still in place there is still a potential for catastrophic failure that can result in the loss of infrastructure and possibly life in the flood zone below the dam.”
Plans for a replacement have been in the works for some time, but the entire cost of the project Clarion estimates at $1.5 million is not yet accounted for.
“We need about $350,000 more,” he said. “We’re just frantically trying to secure the funding.”
Construction was due to begin this summer, but in light of the rapid deterioration Clarion hopes the schedule can be moved up.
“We’re not going to be operational until the new dam is constructed,” he said.
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