Upper Roberts Meadow
Reservoir Dam Removal
and Stream Restoration, City of Northampton, MA

Ecosystem Restoration & Mitigation
Dam Removal & River Restoration
Native Plant Communities

June 2018 – September 2018


Additional Highlights

The project was executed in multiple phases that included staged release of impounded sediment, along with management and monitoring of sediment mobilization to ensure no flooding downstream and no impacts to infrastructure. The 10,000 cubic yards of impounded sediment was addressed with an innovative approach of active sluicing to relocate it downstream in sediment-starved reaches to enhance aquatic habitat and promote natural streambed development within the former water impoundment. This approach reduced dredging and disposal costs for the City – in the amount of $500,000. In addition, SumCo’s ability to accomplish the project “in the wet” and adapt construction techniques during a summer with increased rainfall enabled the project to be successfully completed within one construction season.


The Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir Dam was constructed in 1883 as a water supply reservoir for the City of Northampton. The stone masonry dam was 35’ tall with a 125’ earthen embankment and water impoundment covering 6 acres. After more than a century of use and deterioration, the MA DCR Office of Dam Safety designated the dam as high hazard and unsafe in 2007 and studies were conducted to determine the best course of action. The project planning, permitting and construction was a collaboration of the City with MA’s DEP, Division of Ecological Restoration and Dept. of Fish & Game, USACE, and the engineer GZA. After years of partner efforts, SumCo removed the dam in 2018 which at the time, was the tallest dam removed in the state. GZA’s innovative approach coupled with SumCo’s constructability input and adaptive execution resulted in a very successful outcome despite the complexity of the project and difficult high water conditions. The project was recognized for this collaboration and project outcome by the American Council of Engineering Companies of MA with an Excellence Award in 2019.


The removal of the dam and restoration of the 1,300 linear feet of riparian corridor re-established stream connectivity to a high quality upgradient brook trout habitat and the upper and middle reservoirs along the Roberts Meadow Brook. The project restored the ecological processes for these reaches, including the natural movement of sediment and organic matter, which supports and sustains downstream habitats and food web structure. The project also eliminated the potential for uncontrolled flood damage resulting from a dam failure from this severely deteriorating 35’ structure that had significant water seepage through the blocks. The City’s liability and potential cost to taxpayers were also removed, and the project opened up public access to previously-restricted upstream watershed lands for fishing and outdoor recreation.

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