The remnants of Hurricane Ida earlier this month caused havoc across Aquidneck Island. For Newport Water, emergency repairs to the dam around part of Gardiner Pond across from Second Beach are ongoing.
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NEWPORT WATER BUSY WITH
DAM WORK FROM SEPT. 2 FLOODING
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (SEPTEMBER 29, 2021) – Emergency work is being carried out for the Newport Water Division to reinforce the dam around the Gardiner Pond reservoir.
Recently, East Coast Construction of Portsmouth was called in to stabilize the dam along the eastern portion of the reservoir after it sustained damage from heavy flooding on Sept. 2 from remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Newport Acting Director of Utilities Robert C. Schultz, Jr. said the project was expected to take at least six weeks. While the effort was ongoing, Schultz asked people to steer clear of the area, which is muddy, wet and potentially dangerous.
“There was so much flow from the Sept. 2 storm that it cut into the dam in several places,” Schultz said. “(The dam) isn’t failing, but there was definitely enough damage that it needed to be stabilized immediately.”
The project area is immediately off Third Beach Road between Sachuest Point Road and Third Beach.
Several long-reach cranes and other construction gear are in place there to help get work done.
Based on his findings, Schultz said the last time the dam in that section underwent such significant work was in 1943.
The primary goal of the reinforcement work is to stabilize the dam so it doesn’t fail and the fresh drinking water in Gardiner Pond is protected.
He said East Coast Construction is placing a priority on minimizing any impacts to the area and causing as few disruptions to the natural habitat as possible.
Because the area is difficult to access, Schultz said the phragmites will be cut down in coming weeks, part of a separate, but related project. Once that work was completed, Schultz said it will be easier for Water Division staff to do a quick visual inspection of the dam to make sure it’s in good shape before moving onto other tasks.
He said an ancillary benefit of the phragmites removal might be the improved flow of the Maidford River through the area.
The meandering waterway on the east side of Town starts near the Newport Vineyards and heads south before emptying out into the Sakonnet River at Third Beach.
During heavy rains, the beach area and other locations upstream are prone to flooding as tens of millions of gallons of water flow into the area. For a look at the flooding caused by remnants from Hurricane Ida, visit https://vimeo.com/596660632 online.
The culvert that runs over the Maidford River also was flowing viciously on Sept. 2, something that hadn’t been seen in years. Since the summer of 2016, the Town has not bulldozed out the culvert, instead leaving sand where nature intended it. For a video of the area on Sept. 2, visit https://vimeo.com/596695370 online.
Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said Middletown appreciated Newport Water’s work in the area because everyone benefits.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with Newport Water and the work they do is invaluable,” Brown said. “Clean water is one of our top priorities as a community and this is just another example of the strong partnerships we have with our neighboring municipalities.”