Will Westerly’s municipal water wells adjacent to the Pawcatuck River be affected?

Based on the findings of previous studies of the aquifers in this section of the Pawcatuck River, Westerly’s municipal water wells will not be affected. Previous studies by the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the Pawcatuck River between Potter Hill Dam and Bradford is receiving water from upland areas in the contributing watershed and is not feeding water into the deep groundwater aquifer from which public drinking water wells in this stretch of the river (Crandall and Bradford wells) draw their water. A review of sub-surface mapping published in USGS’s studies of this area indicates that the nearest well (the Crandall well, within Aguntaug Swamp) is supplied by the water entering the aquifer from the south (ocean-side of the well) and the surrounding swamp, and is not being recharged by the river.

The river would recharge the aquifer in this area only if water withdrawals from these municipal and other private wells increased significantly beyond today’s level (to or above the aquifers’ full yield capacity) causing the existing water table along the river to be significantly lowered. During drought conditions, only the Noyes Avenue and White Rock wellhead protection areas (which are downstream of the dam by more than two miles and thus not affected by removal of the Potter Hill Dam) supplies water to the aquifer due to the extensive paved areas limiting water infiltration along this stretch of the river.

Shallow private drinking wells that draw water from the river via shallow sandy soil formations are our priority and the primary focus of our assessment.

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1. Why is the dam being removed?
2. Could the dam be repaired or partially removed?
3. Could a design similar to that of the Bradford fish passage project be used for the Potter Hill project?
4. What alternative designs have been considered and why was the proposed design selected?
5. What safety hazards are associated with the mill and dam structures?
6. How will removing the dam affect water levels in the river?
7. Will my household well be affected?
8. Many properties along the Pawcatuck River have private drinking water wells, especially on the Hopkinton side of the river. How many homeowners’ wells could be affected by the predicted drop
9. Will Westerly’s municipal water wells adjacent to the Pawcatuck River be affected?
10. How will removing the dam reduce flood risk to upstream and downstream properties? Will larger flood events (i.e., the 500-year recurrence flood) be worse upstream or downstream following dam removal?
11. Will removal of the dam cause increased flooding to downstream areas, including downtown Westerly?
12. How will removing the defunct dam and mill affect public access to and uses of the river?
13. How will removing the dam affect fish and wildlife?
14. How will removing the dam affect wetland systems upstream of the dam?
15. Is the proposed design accounting for climate change projections and worst-case future hydrologic scenarios?
16. Who is the project team?
17. What are the next steps?
18. Where can I get more information on the project?