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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: June 30, 2011
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402


EAST PROVIDENCE, RI - The contractor hired to construct fish passage facilities at Hunts Mill and Turner Reservoir Dams in East Providence will be re-mobilizing at the site to continue construction beginning in July.

In order to continue construction of the fish passage facilities, the water level at Turner Reservoir Dam must be lowered 30-42 inches. As a result, 15 feet or more of shoreline may be exposed. Officials anticipate that it may take one week to complete the water lowering for the contractor to start the work. Per the environmental window established in the freshwater wetlands permit, the water level may not be reduced until July1 of each year. The water levels are expected to remain lowered throughout the summer.

The project involves construction of Denil fishways at Omega Pond Dam, Hunts Mill Dam and Turner Reservoir Dam to restore anadromous fish passage to the lower Ten Mile River.

The Ten Mile River watershed, with a total drainage area of about 56 square miles, is located in southeastern Massachusetts and northeastern Rhode Island. About 51 square miles of this drainage area are situated in Massachusetts and the remaining five square miles are located in Rhode Island.

For more than 200 years, dams have blocked anadromous river herring (blueback herring and alewives) and American shad from their historic spawning grounds in the Ten Mile River watershed. These anadromous fish live as adults in salt water, but must return to freshwater to spawn.

The project area includes the lower portion of the Ten Mile River watershed, with a specific focus toward providing anadromous fish passage at the first (lowest) three dams on the river: Omega Pond Dam, Hunts Mill Dam and Turner Reservoir Dam.

The city of East Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are the non-federal sponsors for this environmental restoration project.

The Denil fishways will provide for upstream migration of adult Blueback Herring, Alewife, and American shad to historic spawning areas. Each Denil fishway will be 4-feet wide and have a 1 vertical on 8 horizontal floor slope to allow the passage of both river herring (blueback herring and alewives) and American shad.

The project will restore anadromous fish populations to the lower Ten Mile River up to the Golf Club Dam in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This will allow anadromous alewives access to about 340 acres of spawning habitat within Omega Pond, Hunts Mill Pond and Turner Reservoir and provide approximately three miles of riverine spawning habitat for blueback herring and American shad.

Based on the projections of DEM, these habitat areas will support a fish run of more than 200,000 herring. The number of American shad that will return is unknown, but the fishways are capable of passing about 25,000 shad.

Questions regarding the fish passage project or the lowering of the reservoir can be directed to Jay McGinn of DEM at 401-222-2776 ext. 4313 or Larry Oliver of USACE at 978-318-8347.


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