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Curran Lower Reservoir Dam Survey Works Starts this Month

PROVIDENCE, RI The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is announcing that survey work of the state-owned Curran Lower Reservoir dam in Cranston is expected to begin this month. The dam, built in 1950, is deemed to be deemed a high-hazard structure that is in an unsafe condition, according to DEM's most recent dam safety report. DEM is the regulator of dams in Rhode Island and is in the process of financing, planning, and repairing the high-hazard and/or unsafe dams it owns across the state.

Engineers are working to develop plans to repair and strengthen the dam. The project is currently in the design phase requiring a structural analysis and in-depth survey of the site. The work to be undertaken shortly will involve a survey team accessing the site and performing a structural analysis of the dam including conducting precision drilling in and around the structure. The drilling, which expected to last several days, is loud and will likely be heard by neighbors in the vicinity, particularly along Hope Road. Although acknowledging the temporary inconvenience caused by the noise, DEM Director Terry Gray said repairing the dam is essential.

"With the increased frequency of high-intensity storms resulting from climate change and the pressure that these kinds of storms put on dams, it's imperative for all dam owners, including DEM, to assess their dams, ensure that they are structurally sound, and maintain them in a safe condition," Gray said.

The John L. Curran State Park is an undeveloped state park that includes two freshwater reservoirs, referred to as the Upper and Lower reservoirs, both of which are stocked with trout and popular with anglers. The Lower Curran dam is tucked into the woods and accessible by a trail system off Laten Knight Road. Following the survey work, Lincoln-based Pare Corporation will design and prepare construction plans for the rehabilitation of the dam. The engineering assessment and design work is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Dam Safety Program, state bond funds, and RI State Capital (RICAP) funds. DEM recently finished repairing the Wyoming Upper Reservoir dam in Hopkinton and Richmond and is continuing to repair the Silver Spring Lake dam in North Kingstown. DEM owns both dams.

The Curran Upper Reservoir has a boat ramp allowing cartop and boats with motors under 10 horsepower. The dam impounding the Upper Reservoir, located on Seven Mile Road, was rebuilt in 2014. Once leaving the Lower Reservoir, the waters of Clarke Brook flow swiftly out of the park and eventually into the northern tributaries of the Pawtuxet River and into the Pawtuxet River proper. Ultimately, the water joins with the Providence River at Pawtuxet Village and then on to Narragansett Bay.

After the repairs, the Lower Reservoir dam will still be classified as a high-hazard dam meaning it would still have the potential to cause the loss of human life if it were to fail but it would no longer be rated as unsafe. DEM will try to minimize impacts to the public during this project. Access to fishing near the dam will be limited as the work will include closing a portion of the parking lot closest to the dam.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 06-23-2022

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