Archive for the ‘The Dam’ Category

Update on the Dam

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

The dam reconstruction project that began earlier this summer is nearing completion.

Corrected by Perfectly Clear on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 6:32:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time

The large crane has been removed.  All sections of the dam have been completed.  The new walkway across the auxiliary spillway is in place.

The photo timeline of the project has been updated HERE.

Progress on the Dam

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Work continues on the reconstruction of the dam.  The house has been moved back to its original location, but about three feet higher, on the columns we saw in the earlier photos.  Pedestals have appeared on the auxiliary spillway, which will support the new, safer, all metal walkway out to the camp.IMG_5029_Snapseed

New photos taken August 20th have been added to the Dam Chronology page HERE.

Timeline Photos of the Dam Construction

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016




Link HERE to a page of dam photos arranged in chronological order, showing the progress of construction to date.  It will be updated from time to time.

Progress on the Dam

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Work continues on the dam.  The house has been moved up on top of the columns we saw in the last pictures, right back in its original location, but about three feet higher.  Support pedestals have been built on top of the auxiliary spillway, which will support the new, safer, steel walkway out to the camp.


Photos from August 20th have been added to the Dam Chronology page HERE.

Reconstruction of the Dam is Underway

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Yes, it is a surprise, and a very pleasant one, too.

The Tri-Town Commission has engaged a contractor, Hebert Excavation Company, of Williamstown, VT, which began work in late May.  They say that the project should be complete by the end of the summer.

(click on any of the photos to view a larger image)

May 18th

Temporary Dam

A temporary dam was constructed just upstream of the Robinson Hill Road bridge.


The water level was lowered by about four feet, exposing much of the concrete portion of the dam.  The house is still in place.  The “Shady House” (shack) at the near (north) end of the dam has been moved out of the way.

June 22nd


The house has been moved off its historic foundations, sliding south about 25 feet.


Most of the portion of the dam north of the house has been removed.  The portion that used to be under the house still remains.  Fill has been introduced into the cove, making a platform from which the construction machinery can reach the dam.


From this angle you can see the crane out in what was the cove.  The primary spillway is not underneath the house.  Later in the process the house will be moved back to the right (north) and the final portion of the dam will be demolished and rebuilt.

July 6


They are replacing the dam in sections, starting at the north (near) end.  Here they are already pouring some concrete in the first section.


At the far right are the forms and steel ready for pouring.  The big white marshmallow looking things to the left are to keep the water out of the near end where they are pouring.


The view from the southeast.  The cement apparatus is visible in the distance.


Detail here of the steel and forms ready for pouring.

July 16


Work continues across the dam.  This is the first shot that clearly shows the new bulkhead at the near end of the dam.  The digger is almost to the place where the house belongs.


Looking back at the construction.  A second look at the new bulkhead.





Lake Fairlee Dam Project on Hold

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
[this article was published in the Valley News and is excerpted here for private use only]

By Maggie Cassidy, Valley News Staff Writer

Friday, July 24, 2015, (Published in print: Saturday, July 25, 2015)

Contractor Parts Ways After Dispute

Thetford — The long-planned project to replace the ailing Lake Fairlee Dam this summer abruptly halted this week after the contractor and the three towns involved — Thetford, Fairlee and West Fairlee — parted ways over a dispute about the unsigned construction contract.

Speaking for the towns, Fairlee Selectboard Chairman Frank J. Barrett Jr. said the $850,000 project, which voters in the three towns approved through bond votes in May, would go back out to bid next year.

This winter, the towns plan to sandbag the dam, which is located in Thetford and controls Lake Fairlee’s shoreline, he said.

[ . . . ]

You are invited to read the rest of this longish article HERE.  The Valley News encourages you to visit their website, where everyone can read one article for free, and up to five per month at no cost by providing an email address.


Dam Vote Passes — Construction to Proceed this Summer

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

On May 19th the towns of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee each approved ballot measures which will allow them to proceed with the rebuilding of the Lake Fairlee dam this summer.  The measures were supported by 76% of the voters in Fairlee, by 78% in Thetford, and by 85% in West Fairlee.  This result is most gratifying to those of us who have devoted many hours over the past three years learning what could be done for the dam and developing a plan to bring it about.  It also represents a welcome level of cooperation among the three towns that we hope can be replicated in other areas.

The contractor is set to begin work on the dam sometime in mid June.  Recreational use of the lake should not be affected at all.  In the near future each town will select delegates to the new Tri-Town Commission which will take over responsibility for the dam in the future.  We will keep you advised of our progress.

Thank you to all who helped make this happen.  Today’s decisions are a victory for our lake’s ecosystem, for fiscal sustainability, and for common sense.


Questions and Answers about the Proposed Dam Reconstruction

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The Tri-Town Committee posted an informative response to questions raised by the public in the run up to the vote last Tuesday.  You can read them HERE.

Tri-Town Committee Hosts Dam Meeting

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

About 50 people turned out on a fine Saturday afternoon to hear the latest plans for the repair of the Lake Fairlee dam.   Members of the Tri-Town Committee  spoke on a panel for about 45 minutes, then answered questions and heard discussion for about the same period.  Although the meeting had been publicized on the three towns’ listservs most of the attendees seemed to be residents from around the lake and other friends of the Lake Fairlee Association.  Three additional meetings will be held in the fall, one in each of the three towns, which will cover the same material and hopefully attract a wider audience.

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  Jay Barrett, Fairlee Selectboard member, spoke about the importance of the lake to the community, mentioning some intangible and less easily quantified benefits.  The lake attracts visitors who support local businesses.  The lake is a source of recreation and relaxation for local residents.  He explained how the three towns had come together around their shared interest in preserving the lake, and had formed the Tri-Town Committee.  He gave an overview of the committee’s process to date, and the committee’s decision to complete the planning and bidding process before bringing a finished proposal  to the voters at Town Meeting next March.

Shawn Patenaude spoke next. He is an engineer working for Dubois & King, a consulting firm which has been engaged to examine the condition of the dam and develop plans for its repair.  He related his firm’s involvement, and described some of the testing and analysis they had done.  He brought drawings of the planned “replacement in place” of the dam, and explained how this method of repair would involve less permitting.  He explained how the State of Vermont would likely not allow replacement of a failed dam if the permit applications had not been filed by the time the dam breached.  He spoke about the “Phase II” planning which is beginning now that will result in completed plans which can be part of a request for bids.

Donn Downey, a member of Thetford’s Selectboard, gave a thorough analysis of the comparative costs to the towns of allowing the dam to fail, on the one hand, versus passing a bond issue to repair the dam.  If the dam fails, the value of lakeshore properties will drop, as will the property tax income of the towns from those properties.  This decrease in tax revenue will have to be made up by increasing the tax rate of all the properties in the towns.  He used a cost figure of $750,000 for the completed project, and assumed that the towns might issue bonds to be repaid at 4% interest over 20 years.  Based on what he believes are conservative estimates, it will be less expensive for the towns, and for their taxpayers, to fix the dam now before it fails than allowing it to fail and then suffering the shortfall.

final slide

One slide from Downey’s presentation showing annual tax increases

Skip Brown, the Chairman of the committee, spoke briefly about some  legal considerations.  It is proposed that the towns will enter into a so-called interlocal agreement, by which they will agree to cooperate in the rebuilding and subsequent care of the dam.  This agreement will include the creation of a Tri-Town Commission, an appointive municipal board that will oversee the process.  The three towns will acquire an ownership interest in the dam prior to any work being done.

The floor was then open to questions.  They were many and varied.  A few offered suggestions of alternative locations for the dam, or innovative construction methods.  Most of these had already been explored by the committee. Several questions involved the problem of private benefit from public funds.  In order to rebuild the dam, the camp that sits over it will have to be raised up before the work and then lowered back down afterwards.  Through its permitting process the State will require us to return the camp to a sturdier foundation than the one it now sits on.  This will confer a benefit on the landowner at public cost.  Brown explained that the committee had explored various alternatives, and that the one proposed seems to be the most efficient and cost effective.  There were also several comments about the thoroughness of the committee’s presentation and gratitude for its work.

Dam Meeting August 2nd

Monday, July 28th, 2014
The public is invited to attend a presentation by the Tri-Town Committee about plans to rebuild the Lake Fairlee dam in 2015.  The meeting will be held at Horizons Day Camp, on Route 244 at Middlebrook Road, at 4:30 pm on Saturday, August 2nd.
The Tri-Town Committee was created in 2012 by the selectboards of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee, to respond to the deteriorating condition of the Lake Fairlee dam.  Preliminary engineering studies have been completed, and plans for its reconstruction in place have been drawn.  The three towns have discussed how they might acquire joint ownership of the dam, and how they would work together in the future to manage it.  We have discussed how to apportion the cost and how to raise the funds required for this project.
The committee has determined to proceed with the next phase of planning, a process that will result in final building plans, after which we will request bids from qualified construction companies.  We hope to complete the bidding process by the end of 2014.
This meeting will be the first of four.  Other will be scheduled later in the fall, one in each of the three towns.
At this meeting we will discuss:
  • Why the towns should repair the dam: economic benefits and tax consequences
  • Engineering studies, design considerations, and proposed plans
  • Proposed timeline – planning, bidding, contract award, bond vote
  • Legal considerations:
    • What property interest the towns will obtain in the privately owned dam
    • The ‘interlocal agreement’ that will allow the towns joint ownership
    • The Tri-Town Commission that will manage the new dam in the future
  • Funding:
    • A brief summary of the costs to date
    • A proposal for how to allocate the costs among the three towns
    • The proposed bond issues in each town
There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion as time allows.