Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 47-6
Presentation Time: 9:40 AM


SCHIFF, Roy, Milone & MacBroom, 1 South Main Street, 2nd Floor, Waterbury, VT 05403

The obsolete and deteriorating East Burke Lumber Company Dam located on the East Branch of the Passumpsic River in the Village of East Burke was removed in fall of 2017. The breached concrete dam was 150 feet long and 13 feet high and was in poor condition. The dam was owned by the Passumpsic Valley Land Trust. The Connecticut River Conservancy managed the removal project.

Geomorphic assessment indicated that the East Branch of the Passumpsic River downstream of the dam was starved of sediment due to the dam trapping the bedload. Approximately 17,000 cubic yards of sediment (1,100 dump truck loads) was stored behind the dam. It was estimated that this amounted to 5 years of sediment yield from the watershed. If the dam failed, the downstream channel would have filled with sediment leading to likely avulsion or meander migration, and damages to local roads, buildings, and riparian lands would have been likely. A dam failure would have degraded habitat and water quality for a long time.

The removal of the East Burke Dam was identified by the State of Vermont as the highest priority active river restoration project in the Passumpsic River watershed. The dam removal eliminated a safety hazard, reduced flooding risks, restored natural sediment transport, restored natural hydrology, and improved habitat.