Removing dams on the White River

There are over 1,000 dams located on Vermont’s rivers and streams that serve no useful purpose: originally built to provide a source of power for manufacturing and other private and public uses, these “deadbeat” dams have been abandoned and most have fallen into disrepair.

However many of these dams still span the river channels they were built to harness. So they are blocking the movement of water, sediment, and aquatic life.

Removing these dams restores connectivity to a river system:

  • Clean water: Sediments trapped behind a dam can contain high levels of pollutants. Removing a dam allows sediments to move through the system, improving water quality.
  • Fish movement: Vermont’s native fish need to move upstream to find food, to lay their eggs, and to seek cold water during the hot summer months. Removing a dam allows fish and other aquatic life to move freely between upstream and downstream habitats.
  • Fewer flood damages: Dams elevate water levels and may cause localized flooding during rain events. Removing a dam returns water levels to normal elevations and may reduce damages associated with localized flooding.

The WRP is working to remove deadbeat dams along the White River. In 2016 we worked with our partners to remove the Randolph Dam on the Third Branch of the White River. In 2018 we will work with our partners to remove the Killooleet Dam remnants on the Hancock Branch of the White River. And we are currently working with a local engineer to design dam removal projects for 3 additional dams: one on the Second Branch and two on the First Branch of the White River. In sum these 5 projects will restore almost 300 miles of the White River to free-flowing conditions!

For more information, visit our Fish Passage Project page.