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Posted 7/27/2015

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
USACE, New England District

For the first time in over a century, fish living in the Ten  Mile River can swim to their spawning grounds unassisted.

Col. Christopher Barron, New England District Commander, joined Congressionals, Senators and other partners in cutting the ribbon on the Ten Mile River Ecosystem Restoration Project, June 19.  The ceremony took place in Rumford, Rhode Island.

The Ten Mile River watershed runs approximately 56 square miles through Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  Denil fish passages were constructed at the first three dams on the river – Omega Pond, Hunts Mill and Turner Reservoir, all in Rhode Island.  “The Ten Mile River project will support a population of more than 200,000 anadromous fish,” said Col. Barron.  “Those fish are an important part of the link between upstream river habitats, Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.”

Other speakers included Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline, Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Buck Sutter, National Marine Fisheries Service, Paul Lemont, city of East Providence, Anne Maxwell, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Wenley Ferguson, Save the Bay and Keith Gonsalaves, Ten Mile River Watershed Council.  Senator Reed, who is on the Appropriations Committee, played a significant role in obtaining the funding for the project.  “Each fishway is composed of four-foot-wide channels that have a one vertical on eight horizontal floor slope to allow the passage of river herring  such as blueback herring and American Shad,” said Col. Barron.

ldquo;The Denil Fishways provide for upstream migration of anadromous fish to their historic spawning areas,” said Larry Oliver, Chief, Evaluation Branch, Engineering/Planning.

Prior to the building of the Denil Fishways, organizations such as the Ten Mile River Watershed Council were assisting the fish over the dams by catching them with fish nets.  “Getting the herring upstream matters,” said Sen. Whitehouse.  “Herring are incredibly cool fish.”

The New England District team and their partners completed construction of the fish ladders at Hunts Mill Dam and Turner River Reservoir in 2012, and completed the final critical link in the system at Omega Pond Dam this past April. 

The contractors that performed the work on this project were John Rocchino Corporation of Smithfield, Rhode Island, S and R Corporation of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Marguerite Concrete of Hopedale, Massachusetts.

The project was cost-shared under the Section 206 cost shared percentages with additional contributions from several other sources.  The federal share for the Section 206 portion of the project, totaling 65-percent was $5 million.  The non-federal share of 35-percent, sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) was approximately $2.7 million.

Although the construction of the Denil fish ladders at all three sites is complete, the District team and the RIDEM will be adding eel passes at Omega Pond Dam and Turner Reservoir.  They will also be making minor modifications to obstructions downstream of Hunts Mill Dam.

District team members are Larry Oliver, Steve Dunbar, Saji Varghese, Mike Tuttle, Ken Levitt, Ben Loyd, Todd Randall, Marc Paiva, Patrick Blumeris, Siamac Vaghar, Bill Gray, Michael Gu, Matt Tessier, Ben Piteo, Mark Godfrey, Tom Carcotte, Dave Descoteaux, Patty Bolton, Drew Clemens, Dave Lubianez, Mark Koenig, Chris Turek, Eric Crockett, Adam Stewart, Jeff Teller, Joe Redlinger, Dave Goodrich, Rick Orlowski, Paul Cohn, Jeff Preston, Adrien Lussier and Barry Sullivan.