The Bartlett Carry Dam isn’t the only privately owned dam getting attention.
Many Adirondack dams constructed well over 100 years ago for the forestry or mining industry are now seeing extensive deterioration. One such dam, the Penfield Dam, has been declared “unsound” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The state is requiring its owners, the Penfield Foundation, to either remove it or repair it.
A recent article in the Adirondack Explorer identifies the struggles the Penfield Foundation is having with their dam, which impounds the waters of Putnam Creek, forming the 150-acre Penfield Pond. The pond, located in the eastern Adirondacks, is the scenic backdrop for the 200-year-old Ironville Historic District. Ironville is known for being the birthplace of the electric age, leading to the invention of the electric motor.
As with the Upper Saranac Foundation’s Bartlett Carry Dam, the Penfield Dam has an economic significance to the surrounding community. The pond is a recreational attraction supporting wetlands, wildlife habitat, and even supports a fish hatchery downstream of the dam. Both dams are similar in size and are rated class “B” dams, meaning that a failure may result in infrastructure damage and pose a threat of personal injury, economic loss, or substantial environmental damage.
The DEC is requiring action and, according to an email correspondence, “as the dam owner, the Penfield Foundation is responsible for determining whether the dam will be removed or fixed to meet safety standards.” After multiple attempts to unsuccessfully find funds for the repair of the dam, the Penfield Foundation recently notified the DEC that they are planning to remove the dam.
In 2018, another dam, the Rome Dam and its impoundment on the Ausable River, was dewatered and removed; that dam was also considered structurally unsound by DEC. Its owners, the town of Jay, determined that full removal of the Rome Dam was the only alternative that eliminated all dam safety requirements, downstream risks, and financial exposure associated with the existing dam.
Read the Adirondack Explorer article: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/historic-dam-in-danger