Removal of Mill Street Dam set to begin this week

Beginning the week of Aug. 5, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), the City of Pittsfield, and the Pittsfield Mills Corporation (the private dam owner), will commence with work for the removal of the Tel-Electric Dam, also known as the Mill Street Dam, and the revitalization of the West Branch Housatonic River.

“This is an exciting project that offers enormous ecological and recreational opportunities not only now, but for generations to come,” said James McGrath, Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager.

The dam is located on the west branch of the Housatonic River within a developed mill complex at 105 Hawthorne Ave. The project’s goal is to protect surrounding infrastructure, eliminate a public safety hazard, and reduce area flooding. It will restore river ecological conditions by removing a barrier to fish and wildlife movement, improve water quality, and dredge polluted sediments.

In total, the project has received approximately 2.9 million dollars toward construction costs from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Restoration and Damage Assessment, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Dam and Seawall Repair / Removal Program, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Ecological Restoration, and the MASubCouncil of the Housatonic River Trustee Council, in addition to contributions from the City and the dam owner.

"Our administration is pleased to support local dam removal and restoration projects that improve wildlife habitat and help communities better withstand flooding and future storms,” noted Governor Charlie Baker in a press release this past spring on the announcement of grant funding toward the project. “These nature-based approaches build community resilience to the effects of extreme weather and are a key part of our approach to preparing for climate change.”

For more information about the project, please click here to watch a video produced by the Division of Ecological Restoration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cfwKWNOPO0&feature=youtube