SWANZEY — The town is planning for a project to address deficiencies in Upper Wilson Pond Dam, with a public information session coming up Wednesday.
The town-owned dam is on Swanzey Factory Road, at the outlet of Upper Wilson Pond. It was built in the early 1900s, according to the town. (It’s entirely separate from the Wilson Pond Dam in West Keene, which is owned by the Keene School District and several miles away.)
Swanzey has received several letters of deficiency from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services in the past decade spelling out necessary actions to bring the dam into compliance with state safety standards.
The most recent of them, last June, requires the town to either reconstruct the dam to meet those requirements, remove it or modify it so that it would no longer be considered a “high hazard” dam by October 2023.
A high hazard dam is one that would likely cause loss of life if it failed, due to its size and location.
Town Administrator Michael Branley said there are three general options: reconstruct the dam, remove the dam, or something in the middle — like leaving the dam in place but lowering the water level enough that it would no longer pose a significant enough risk to be subject to the same standards.
Branley said one goal of Wednesday’s meeting is to hear public feedback on why, if at all, the dam is important to the community. That will inform the specific plans that engineering firm DuBois & King draws up. Those will then be presented to the public at a later information session, Branley said.
Swanzey has received a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to cover 65 percent of the cost of the engineering work. Branley said the town plans to apply for another grant to help offset the costs of construction, which would take place next year at the earliest.
The public information session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday on Zoom. To join, call 929-205-6099 and enter meeting ID 871 0661 8409, or go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87106618409.