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Gates on Libby Dams Not Functional,
But Dams are Still Structurally Sound
By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, May 1, 2013
A recent inspection of the two dams on Libby Brook by the Maine Emergency Management Agency has found that the gates that were designed to lower water levels and flush out silt are inoperable.
“These gates are used to drain the pond down if you so desire,” explained Fort Fairfield town manager, Dan Foster. “Neither one of those gates work. That is really the key thing that has been addressed in these inspections that were done. To fix those gates would be extremely expensive with absolutely no benefit to the community at all. I'm definitely not in favor of making that recommendation to the council.”
The two dams were built in the 1960's as a conservation project. “The whole intent was Libby Brook would break through the middle of town and it was to protect that part of the residential street plus the building section. Those two dams were to help handle the Spring thaws.”
The dams feature two fairly large spillways, one around each dam so if the water gets too high on the dams it goes around via the spillway. “To my knowledge, I don't know if there's ever been a time when the water's gotten so high on the dam- which would not be really that high, only two thirds of the way up - where it would actually go around the dam to the spillways to take pressure off the dam.”
According to Fire Chief, Paul Durepo, the water has never come close to the spillways.
Foster says the dams are structurally sound. “There's nothing wrong with them per se. If they are really going to push this, and they have a state statute where they could fine us if we do not comply, my solution would be to just crank those things open and just drain both ponds. There's no advantage to our community to have those two ponds there. Rommie Haines might be affected, but if it came down to that we could pass our responsibility to fix those gates to Rommie if he really wanted to keep that pond and he could work with them and figure out what needs to be done.
There is currently nothing wrong structurally with either one of those dams to warrant the town to spend any money to fix the gates. “Since the 1960's we've built a diversion that runs parallel to Roosevelt Avenue which takes most of Libby Brook and bypasses most of downtown and goes to Pattee Brook. Since 2000 we put in the pumping station so if anything does come down Libby Brook we can pump over to the Aroostook river during the Spring. So, the chances of Libby Brook ever causing a flood issue for our downtown are pretty near non-existent based on all of the things we've done since then.”
Fort Fairfield Journal ©2013 David R. Deschesne, All Rights Reserved