CHESHIRE -- A restoration project at Thunder Brook Dam off West Mountain Road is in full swing and progressing as planned, town officials report.
The object of work at the site, which began last week, is to remove an old dam preventing water flow and creating sediment build up at the brook, and to replace a downstream culvert with a larger one.
According to town Highway Superintendent Peter Lefebvre, most of the dam has already been removed.
"Hopefully it should be done by next Friday or the following Monday," Lefebvre said Friday. "... Right now the flow is being diverted by pipes, and we're lucky it has been slow. We'd like to get it done before too much rain comes."
The dam was formerly a town water supply but was shut down in the 1970s. The project has been in the planning since before 2008.
Friday, town Selectwoman Carol Francesconi praised work thus far as "moving along beautifully."
"There's a lot of work as far as culverts are concerned," Francesconi said. "It's not like we just needed to pop a hole in the dam and let the water run through. According to the proposals and the contract, [construction] has gone very well. They've been working all week."
The project was funded by a number of grants from organizations like Trout Unlimited and Massachusetts Environmental Trust, along a $75,000 commitment of in kind services from the town and other partners.
So far, only the town Highway
In addition to the most sought-after benefit of the project -- a healthy, improved waterway -- it also stands to benefit the ecosystem. Fish passage for species such as the native eastern brook trout, the long-nose sucker and the slimy sculpin will improve markedly from the dam's removal. Several of these creatures have seen a decline in the state in recent years, according to the Hoosic River Watershed Association (HooRWA), a partner in the project.
The project brings with it the promise of a reconnected 2.4-mile stretch of the habitat of the unnamed brook on which the damn is situated. HooRWA also names "[enhancing] public awareness of water quality issues" as a positive effect.
The Highway Department asks that the public refrain from visiting the site until construction is complete.