Bartlett Carry Dam Maintenance

Most of us on Upper Saranac are aware that there is a dam at the lake outlet. Did you know that this structure is owned and operated by the Upper Saranac Foundation and maintains the lake water level approximately four feet higher than before the dam was built? Imagine your favorite spot along the shoreline with the water level four feet lower. At Back Bay for example, there would be an extremely narrow water opening between the sand bars on the East and West shore.

For those readers interested in more detail on the dam, please read the ‘history of the dam’ at the bottom here.

In short, the dam was built in 1915, and there was major reconstruction by the USF in 1994. Since the reconstruction of the dam in 1994, little maintenance had been done until the summer of 2011. As part of New York State DEC mandated requirements for dam safety, the USF has assured compliance. The Foundation has hired a professional Engineer to oversee our ongoing dam related projects and assist us in preserving our Dam. We have also developed and implemented an Inspection and Maintenance Plan, have routine safety inspections conducted by the Lake Manager and a professional engineer, obtain an annual DEC certification, and most recently developed an Emergency Action Plan prepared by the Engineer. This year the USF is working with our engineer to complete a Dam Safety Engineering Assessment Report, a 10 year annual report requirement by the NYSDEC Dam Safety.

As part of our Maintenance Plan, for the purpose of emergency and general maintenance access, the USF completed refurbishment of the access road on the south side of the dam in the fall 2011. We have filled in the settlement of rip-rap along the abutments with approved blast rock and have completed some minor concrete repair caused from the high waters of the 2011 spring’s floods, general erosion and freeze thaw effects.

In 2012, major repair of the dam has once again been completed. The work repaired deterioration of two abutment walls of the north spillway. Applications for construction permits from the APA, DEC, US Army Corp of Engineers and Harrietstown all were obtained by Guy Middleton our Lake Manager, prior to the commencement of work.

2012 maintenance work began the first week of October with rebuilding the surface of the north abutment wall of the dam’s north spillway.

2012 maintenance work began the first week of October with rebuilding the surface of the north abutment wall of the dam’s north spillway.

See pictures below.

Photo: © Guy Middleton


In our climate, with many annual freeze-thaw cycles, water flow erosion and vegetation encroachment, concrete becomes deteriorated. Without planned maintenance, over time, dam integrity and downstream safety are at risk.

Photo: © Guy Middleton


Project completed. Coffer dams removed, water flows over the entire north spillway and worksite cleanup finished.

Learn about the history of the Bartlett Carry Dam: read more↪