Possibly removing Exeter’s Great Dam raises questions October 7, 2008

Let  it run  to the Sea, no questions from me.

Last night the  Selectmen meeting was a bit over the top. In the  11th  hour  Lionel  Ingram  has informed us that the State of NH would like to discuss removing the Great? Dam. I attended a handful of Lionel’s River Study Committee  and  know his position . He is quoted in the minutes on one occasion deriding dam removal  as “foolish”. He continues to  be the point man moving forward. I don’t know why given his  hard position.

The discussion of  this proposal will now be put off for as many as 5 months. During that time  I would like  to see all Lionel’s meetings televised. I would also  like to see a time change as they are usually during the  week , at 930am. Last night I heard Lionel say  “the constant need to go before the public” in an almost irritated tone. The context being his statement  to the Board that he felt bringing the dam removal concept forward was “more political than the Board can handle”. Lionel should not have held this letter from the State. We need to explore this issue fully before sinking money into an old  dam. The entire process has to be made more public, and sorry Lionel, there will be questions.

Today  I took a few  snaps of the   Exeter  River beginning in Chester NH  off  RT 102. I  am trying to answer  for myself what the River  might look like minus  the dam.

This water was moving pretty fast  in Chester , and it was clear to the bottom.

This is in Fremont along 102, beautiful, deep , and running fast. This is looking downstream.

Same location looking up stream. You know a running river has such a pleasant sound , all that burbling and gurgling, unlike the dead silence  it maintains  at Gilman Park.

This is 111A at Red Brook Road really nice.  Flowing,  sparkling.

This is Fremont

This cascade is across from Lindy’s Store in Brentwood. Oxygen, the life blood of a River.

This view is off Haigh Road in Brentwood, the river is  still  moving fast.

Pickpocket Dam, the last dam before the Great? Dam.

The Exeter  River below Pickpocket Dam, free again, for a bit.

This is near Exeter Elms campground. It seemed  I was  looking at a different river. You could not see the bottom, and the water was still. I feel this effect is  brought on by the Great Dam. It’s almost creepy, not the campground , the river. I spend all my time below the Falls on the Squamscott. Which is tidal.

This is  looking upstream  at Gilman Park here in Town. Those leaves floating in the foreground were not moving.

There was some opining last night about water depths minus the dam . This river must have deep holes, one was big enough to conceal  a stolen Crown Victoria ( a police  cruiser, with  a shotgun still in the trunk) for a number of years. I believe it was in this stretch of the river, right near  our Town water  intake.

Downstream view, though it’s hard to tell by looking at the river flow.

My hope is that the greater time line of History prevails  on this dam removal  and not the last 150, or someones own fairly recent memory, someone whose time is passing.

If you were  having a bite at 11 water today  you might have seen me fall  in  getting this last shot! I bet it looked pretty funny. The  Dam is actually built on top of the Exeter Falls which will provide generations with a lovely and varying waterfall .

“Did you see the Falls today?”


It’s a bedrock shelf folks , a natural dam.

I hope we move forward with the study with full public participation. Oh one more thing. Lets stop throwing  out specious numbers for water wells. Someone  in attendance should have challenged  last night.


October 7, 2008

5 thoughts on “Possibly removing Exeter’s Great Dam raises questions October 7, 2008

  1. Mike: Thanks for the great pictures. I am certainly not a hydrologist so will not pretend to have intimate knowledge of rivers, etc. I do, however have mental pictures of what the areas in your photos would look like without the dam in place, and they are not pretty. Will be keeping track of the goings-on and I hope I am found to be wrong.

  2. Mike, When I look at the dam,I see electricity ,enough to power the mill and the library. Why not just open the gates and drain the river to control flooding. We may need this water in the future as it will become as valuable as Texas tea. Try to get a dam built in 25 years.

  3. maybe Unitl would have interest in funding part of the cost for hydro, I could not justify spending 1 million of tax dollars , state or local to remove the dam. Once again, very simple OPEN THE GATES and let it run free. Mike come in lets talk about Charter St Aquifer over lunch

  4. Opening the gate does not really allow the river to run free. The Wright-Pierce report indicated that the difference in height behind the dam would be only 4 inches less if the gate were to remain wide open. The presence of the dam, with or without an open gate continues to store tons and tons of sediment upstream of the dam which helps contribute to lessened dissolved oxygen which is the lifeblood of the river.
    I have issues in spending close to 2 million dollars on rebuilding a dam that will not alleviate major floods, not improve water quality and continue to block fish passage.

  5. It is time to return the river to its natural state. Let the alewives and shad spawn freely. Lots of people look above the dam. I look below the dam and the benefits its removal will have on the Great Bay.

    The dam has had its life. Let it die so the Great Bay can live.

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