Raritan River Dam Removal

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In July, work began to remove a third dam from the Raritan River, according to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The project will further open a 10-mile stretch of the middle and upper portions of the river to fish spawning and migration and also allow more recreational opportunities.

Removal of the Nevius Street Dam in Raritan Borough is the third and final dam elimination project on the Raritan River over the past three years that is financed by a landmark natural resource damages settlement secured by the DEP in 2010 with El Paso Corporation, which is now Kinder Morgan.

The restoration project is being implemented as compensation to the public for harm to natural resources caused by past pollution at a refinery that was operated by or affiliated with El Paso.

The Nevius Street Dam is being removed as part of a watershed-wide effort to re-establish historically significant migratory fish passage, restore riverine habitat and the natural flow of the Raritan River, and enhance recreational uses.

Its elimination will add to habitat improvements realized from removal of the Calco Dam in Bridgewater in 2011 and the Robert Street Dam in Bridgewater and Hillsborough townships in 2012.

The DEP’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration continues to study additional dams in the Raritan River watershed and will evaluate and implement appropriate options for future enhanced fish passage and recreational opportunities.

The Nevius Street Dam is located just south of the Borough of Raritan at river mile 27.0 in Somerset County. The dam length is approximately 195 feet.

All three dam removals will open up 10 miles of migratory fish habitat along a stretch of the Raritan that twists through a highly diverse residential, commercial and agricultural portion of Somerset County that includes Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Bound Brook, Somerville and Manville. It also will open up about 17 miles of tributaries, including the Millstone River.

Calco Dam, demolished in 2011, was located at river mile 20.9 and built by the Calco Chemical Co. in 1938 to disperse chemicals from its facility.

The Robert Street Dam, a 6 ½-foot-high sheet piling and concrete dam had been located at river mile 27.9 and was originally constructed prior to 1930 for purposes that are not known today.

The Nevius Street Dam, located at river mile 27.0, was constructed of rocks and mortar in 1901 for aesthetic purposes and later retrofitted to provide water to Duke Estate ponds.

Fish to benefit from the removal of the dams include American shad, American eel, herring, and striped bass.

For more information, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/

source: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife