Sylvia Place Dam Breach and Removal

  • Client

    Wetlands Trust

  • EP’s Role


The Sylvia Place Pond Dam, located in Kingston, Massachusetts, is an intermediate-sized significant-hazard earth embankment dam that is regulated (jurisdictional) by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Office of Dam Safety (ODS) and owned and managed by Wildlands Trust. The original purpose of the dam is thought to be a historical impoundment for mill power and ice harvesting. The Sylvia Place Pond Dam is located within the Wildlands Trust Stewart/Person Preserve (the Preserve), which consists of over 26 acres of land.

Wildlands Trust is currently under a Certificate of Non-Compliance and Dam Safety Order with DCR ODS, dated February 22, 2008, to repair the dam into compliance or breach the dam to restore natural stream flow. Environmental Partners (EP) is working on behalf of Wildlands Trust on the permitting and design to breach the dam using funds obtained by the Executive Office of Energy and Affairs (EEA). In conjunction with the design and permitting to breach the dam, Wildlands Trust is looking to replace the existing fish ladder and spillway with an open channel that is in compliance with the Federal Interagency Nature‐like Fishway Passage Design Guidelines.

The restoration approach stemmed from the need to rehabilitate the deteriorating fish ladder and eroding earth embankment dam in accordance with the DCR ODS. With spillway capacity limited to 25 cubic feet per second (cfs), the dam is subject to overtopping in the event of runoff generated by a 2-year, 24-hour, or less, storm event. The project plans to abandon the existing fish ladder and spillway, breach the dam, lower the pond outlet, and restore the embankment, will bring the dam into compliance with dam safety regulations and provide a natural route for fish passage through the network of ponds in the area. EP completed hydraulic modeling and design and is currently permitting the project through various local and state agencies. State and local permitting for the project including the preparation of a MEPA Environmental Impact Report, MassDEP Chapter 91 License/Permit, MassDEP 401 Water Quality Certification, Army Corps General Permit, Notice of Intent, and DMF Fishways Permit.

With EP’s support, the Wildlands Trust was awarded a $729,600 grant to cover 75% of the construction costs under the EEA’s Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program.

EP is currently overseeing the construction phase services for the project. Construction activities are anticipated to begin Spring 2023.

Key Team Members