Spoonville Dam is gone!

Spoonville Dam is gone from Tariffville Gorge!  Demolition of this derelict dam, breached since 1955, started on July 9.  By July 31 the dam and its fragments were removed.

Spoonville Dam after removal in end of July

Workers from Gleim Environmental Group, a dam removal company based in Pennsylvania, hammered the concrete structure into fragments that were trucked out of the river and recycled.   When the work was complete, the river channel had been restored to the bedrock ledge that the dam had been built upon.  

With the dam gone, migrating fish from the Atlantic Ocean, such as American shad (our state fish), will be better able to move upstream to reach their historic breeding areas in the Farmington River.   This improvement in fish passage is one step in a multi-part process of restoring the river as a migratory route for shad, alewife, blueback herring, lampreys, and sea-run trout.  Other steps needed are new fish passage facilities at

Rainbow Dam in Windsor, Winchell Smith Dam in Farmington, and the Collinsville Dams in Avon/Burlington/Canton.   But removal of Spoonville dam is already beneficial, as it allows year-round resident fish species to travel upstream or downstream to find the best habitats.People benefit from the removal too, though whitewater paddlers miss the dramatic play feature provided by the breach in the dam.  Swimming and boating in this part of the river are now safer, and the fishing should remain good!  We extend hearty thanks to all our project partners, including Princeton Hydro Engineering, Gleim Environmental Group, CT DEEP, CL&P (the dam owners), and all the members of FRWA whose support makes work like this possible!

Fun facts about Spoonville Dam’s removal

Before removal

Spoonville Dam in early July before removal

  • Date the dam was constructed:  1899, to supply electric power to Hartford
  • First major flood that threatened the dam: 1900
  • Major flood that broke the dam: 1955
  • Size of structure removed (not including fragments):  128 ft long, 25 ft  high, 30 feet thick
  • Amount of concrete taken out of river:  About 2,000 cubic yards
  • Stone brought in to support construction vehicles (and brought back out afterward): 1200 tons
  • Number of American shad migrating up Connecticut River in 2012:  499,132
  • Number of American shad counted in the Farmington River in 2012:  174
  • Estimated number of adult American shad the Farmington River could support:  20,000

Farmington River Clean-Up – Help Us and Volunteer!


The Farmington River Watershed Association’s (FRWA) 25th Annual Farmington River Clean-up is set for Saturday, September 29th, from 9:30am to 2:00pm.

Want to help keep our beautiful river clean for our enjoyment, our communities, and the habitat of animals? Then please join us and other volunteers for the annual Clean-Up! The Clean-up is a great community event designed to get people and groups of all ages involved in cleaning up litter along the banks of the Farmington River and its tributaries.  Several meeting sites will be actively cleaning the banks of the River in Avon, Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington, Granby, Simsbury and Windsor. Garbage bags and gloves are provided to all participants, through generous donations from local businesses and stores.

After the Clean-up, volunteers are invited to FRWA’s headquarters for a family picnic where refreshments, sandwiches and pizza will be served.  FRWA’s office is located at 749 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury, CT.

For more information on how you can help with the Farmington River Clean-up and to register for a specific site, please call FRWA at (860)-658-4442, extension 0 or visit their website at www.frwa.org.


MDC Offers Free Rain Barrels to Service Area Residents!

The MDC has announced that they are offering (limited) free rain barrels on a first-come, first-serve basis to residents of MDC member towns (Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor).

To learn more about how you can get a rain barrel (one per household) from the MDC, please direct your request to: Ellen Tedford, The Metropolitan District, cleanwaterproject@themdc.com, 860.278.7850 ext. 3224.

See the articles in the West Hartford Patch and Hartford Courant for more information.

Removal of Spoonville Dam in Summer 2012!

This summer, FRWA will coordinate removal of the Spoonville Dam on the Farmington River. The dam, owned by CT Light and Power, will become history thanks to a partnership effort by FRWA, CL&P, and CT DEEP. The removal will help make the river and its tributaries accessible to migratory fish that have historically spawned there, such as American shad (our state fish), river herring, American eels, and others. It is also expected to enhance whitewater paddling in Tariffville Gorge, a popular recreation area, and improve safety of river recreation at the Gorge. To learn more about this exciting river restoration project, go to our Spoonville Dam FAQ page

Watch CT Legislators Announce New Federal Efforts to Protect the Lower Farmington River & Salmon Brook

FRWA is pleased to share the following video of Congressmen Chris Murphy and John Larson, and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Joe Lieberman's remarks announcing new legislation to create a U.S. National Park Service Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protective designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook, through the ten towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, East Granby, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Simsbury, and Windsor.  If you cannot play the video below, please click on this link to go to the CT-N website:

Lower Wild & Scenic Farmington & Salmon Brook Press Conference

On Monday, May 21 at 11:00 am at the Tariffville Mill (2 Tunxis Road, Tariffville, CT 06081) there will be a press conference with Congressmen Chris Murphy and John Larson, and Senators Joe Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal announcing that the Lower Farmington River & Salmon Brook Wild & Scenic River Act Bill (Number HR. 4360) has been introduced to the House of Representatives.

We hope you can join us for this exciting event.  If you cannot attend or would like to learn more about the bill, visit the Library of Congress’s THOMAS website where you can track any bill introduced in Washington.  To track the Wild & Scenic Bill, simply enter in “HR. 4360” and you can keep track of the bill as it goes through the process.

Important Conservation Vote in Simsbury on May 15th – Ethel Walker Woods

FRWA urges our members in Simsbury to vote yes on the Ethel Walker Woods Phase II referendum on May 15th, 2012.  Voting Yes on Question 4 will approve the 2.05 Million Dollar appropriation for Phase 2A of the Ethel Walker Woods conservation.  Of the 2.05 Million Dollar appropriation, one third of the money has been secured by state and federal grants.  If this fails to pass, the $1,000,000 deposit made in 2007 (passed Nov 2006) will be forfeited, $691,000 in grant funding will be lost and the 90 acres of Phase 2 A and 2 B will be vulnerable to future development.

For more information on the Ethel Walker Woods Project, please visit keepthewoods.org or The Trust for Public Land.
For a compelling reason to support this project’s second phase please read this fact sheet on the project from the Highlands Conservation Act.  The text of this document has been copied and pasted below:

The State of Connecticut requests Highlands Conservation Act funds to protect Phase II of the Ethel Walker Property–91 acres of ecologically rich forest, streams, meadows and floodplains. The Town of Simsbury, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and The Ethel Walker School, permanently protected 336 acres in the first phase of this effort in July 2007. At closing, the Town made a $1 million non-refundable deposit on an option to purchase the remaining 91 acres.

The Ethel Walker land contains class I watershed land and is the primary recharge area for the Stratton Brook Aquifer. This aquifer supplies numerous private wells and provides drinking water to more than 10,000 residents.

There are extensive pubic hiking and equestrian trails here. Large stands of mature conifers support more than 60 forest nesting and migratory bird species. The American Bittern, a CT endangered species, has been documented here by the Hartford Audubon Society. Stratton Brook supports native Eastern Brook Trout, in decline throughout CT.

Ethel Walker is contiguous with several preserved properties; if all 427 acres here are preserved, the property would form the core of 1,400 acres of open space. This unique property has been an open space priority for the town and the State of Connecticut for many years.

If a Tree Falls in the River…

Is that a problem? Well, it depends. Downed trees or branches (a.k.a Large Woody Debris) benefit river life in general by providing food and habitat. And they provide lurking places for those really big fish that anglers love to catch. A tree should be left where it is whenever possible. But sometimes a downed tree in the river is a genuine danger to boaters or property.

To find the balance between fish habitat and boater hazard, ask yourself: Is there a safe way to paddle under or around the tree in both high and low water? Is there a safe route to portage around it without trespassing? Can a passage be made by cutting some branches away? Is there a hazard of boats being pinned by the current
against the trunk? More about these situations can be found at www.outdoors.org/rivers.

If you feel that action should be taken for boater safety, take these steps before you cut: First, consult with the riverbank landowners and your town Wetlands Commission for any needed permission to work on the riverbank. You might also consult with the local Department of Public Works or a local boating group, or the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division’s Habitat Conservation and Enhancement program (860-424-3474). Also, you can follow the advice in the CT DEEP’s Large Woody Debris Fact Sheet, at http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/fishing/restoration/largewoodydebrisfactsheet.pdf.

Did the tree in the river get there by beaver intervention?  Check out the DEEP's fact sheet on beavers in Connecticut.