07 February 2011

Dam, Dam, Dam

The Houston-based El Paso Corporation has agreed to remove three dams from the Raritan River as part of a settlement to compensate New Jersey for damage to natural resources from four industrial plants it operates in the state.  Two of the offending facilities, EPEC Polymers Inc in Flemington, and Nuodex Inc. in Woodbridge, are in the Raritan River watershed. 

Removal of the dams is being applauded by environmental groups as the project will allow fish such as American shad, striped bass, American eel, and herring to reach further upriver to spawn.  The faster flow of the river without the dams is also better for the overall health of the river and the surrounding wildlife.

The first dam to be removed will be the Calco Dam, in the vicinity of Polhemus Drive in Bridgewater.  Built by the Calco Chemical Company in 1938, it was used to disperse chemicals into the river, and is currently used by the  Somerset Raritan Valley Sewerage Authority.

View Raritan River Dams to be Removed in a larger map

The two other dams, shown on the map above, are closer to home.

The Nevius Street Dam, located between the Nevius Street Bridge and the Basilone Bridge, was built in 1901 and was used to provide water to the lakes on the Duke Estate.

The Robert Street Dam was built some time before 1930.  Located near the eastern tip of Duke Island Park, it's purpose is unclear - but I am guessing it also had something to do with the Duke Estate.

The Headgates Dam, at the western end of Duke Island Park, is not slated for demolition.

HeadGates Dam at Duke Island Park

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