Fish ladder moving forward - Winchester Wicked Local 12-3-15

By Bram Berkowitz
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Winchester Wicked Local

Posted Dec. 3, 2015 at 11:17 AM


Fish Ladder Moving Forward

If all goes well, residents will be able to stand witness next summer as hundreds of thousands of blueback and alewife herring flood into Winchester and shoot upstream over the Center Falls Dam to the Horn Pond in Woburn, helping to restore what advocates call the natural order of the Aberjona River.
Selectmen gave a tentative green light Nov. 30 to the construction of a fish ladder at the Center Falls Dam, which leads into Mill Pond. Efforts for a fish ladder kicked into high gear last summer when the herring returned to local waters in the Aberjona River for the first time since the Civil War. When the Department of Public Works opened the floodgate of the Center Falls Dam to assist construction at the Jenks Center, the water level of Mill Pond lowered, allowing the herring to sneak through.
With a fish ladder at the dam, herring could migrate upstream by passing over or around the dam even when the floodgate is closed, said resident John Kilborn, who is also an employee at the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Recently, Howard said environmental project management firm de maximis approached a group of residents led by Kilborn, offering to fund the project as part of cleanup efforts to a hazardous site in Woburn. The project management firm is responsible for cleaning up this federal Superfund site.
Jake San Antonio, a consultant for the town, estimates the project could cost up to $250,000, but would only take a few months of construction.
The town will have to develop a memorandum of understanding with the state's Division of Marine Fisheries in regards to operating, maintaining and constructing the fish ladder. Grenzeback and Selectman James Johnson voiced several concerns, including who would maintain the fish ladder, the cost of maintenance, the impact on Woburn and how a fish ladder might impact flood mitigation.
However, selectmen gave their blessing on the project with several conditions, including a full review of funding terms from de maximus, requesting the company to fund project design, provide legal counsel to develop a memorandum of understanding that takes into consideration the town's flood mitigation objectives and requesting an annuity from de maximis to cover annual maintenance.
Follow Bram Berkowitz on Twitter @BramBerkoWL

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