Save Mill Pond Dam

Get the whole story. 

In addition to the loss of inherent environmental, recreational and cultural benefits provided by The Mill Pond Dam there is considerable financial exposure to the town with the plan to remove the dam. 

This site presents information about the root causes of problems with The Mill Pond Dam and the impacts of possible courses of action to resolve them. We hope to help residents make an informed decision about the future of the dam and impoundment. 

We are proudly sponsored by no outside interest groups. We are a common-sense group of Durham residents who want to deal with the impairment in a way that holds polluters accountable, raises awareness of viable alternatives and likely outcomes, and does not simply pass the pollutants downstream - and the cost of this pollution onto the tax payers of Durham.
On 1/27/22 the Town of Durham released an FAQ on dam removal. Please read  

If you wish to support us:
Durham residents display over 1000 signatures supporting a vote of the people.
Save MIll Pond Dam Position Statement

Our Position on Retaining The Mill Pond Dam

There are differing perspectives in our community about the  environmental outcomes of dam removal, the eventual financial burden of any course of action, but the loss of the focal point of our National Register Historical District, one of New Hampshire's richest habitats and the recreational opportunities that will go away are nearly guaranteed. Our intent is to educate members of our community on the whole story, both sides of the controversial issue that will clarify that removal of the dam is not a cut and dry winning solution, in fact one with many clear disadvantages and as many less predictable outcomes.

A Proposed Alternative Approach

1) Volunteers Maintain the Pond 
2)  Hold the Polluters Accountable
3) Develop and Implement an Integrated Plan
4) Get Free Bids NOW to Stabilize the Dam

Environmental Factors

Among the multiple arguments in favor of dam removal is the premise that fish runs will be restored by removal. The existence of the UNH dam less than one mile upstream that drastically limits water flow nearly single-handedly eliminates the prospect of even minimal fish spawning.

NH Fish & Game rates the majority of the Mill Pond dam impoundment and Hamel Brook as the Highest Ranked Wildlife Habitat in NH. With dam removal, that habitat will be altered, invasive species will flourish, and a profound amount of impaired pollutants (including Mercury) will be flushed downstream into Great Bay. Dam removal is kicking this problem downstream while ignoring the root causes of the impairment.


Financial Considerations

Since 2008 over $500,000 has been spent on studies related to the disposition of the Mill Pond Dam and impoundment while only $3300 has been spent on maintenance. Most of the studies have focused on costs of removal, and in fact have been commissioned under the name of a 'Dam Removal Feasibility Study", as if removal was a foregone conclusion. These studies have failed to expose several viable alternatives that have been implemented in other comparable situations and are more affordable than removal, and have omitted costs for essential approvals from various state agencies. Further, removal of the dam will introduce financial exposure to the town related to the restoring lost function of residential wells and reduced property values. Durham residents will share the burden of these costs. 

read more about Town Council action to date

read more about the financial considerations...

Historical  and Cultural  Significance

A great deal more is at stake for the people of Durham than the loss of an historic 1913 dam. As the oldest historical society in New Hampshire the DHA has been a guardian of Durham’s history since 1851 and as such it is important to remember the long arc of Durham’s history in this area. The site of the natural falls of the Oyster River at the head of the tide and the freshet was the perfect place for Thomas Beard and Valentine Hill to build the first dam on the Oyster River in 1649 by a grant from the selectmen of Dover. Since the earliest settlement of our town to the present day there has always been a dam, a mill pond, and a bridge, surrounded by the homes and the businesses of the community.   

read more about the historical significance of the dam

read about the history of the dam

Recreational Benefits

Free Recreation Durham has a valuable resource that provides opportunities and entertainment for everyone, at no cost. The town “has a long legacy of conserving historic sites

In Winter you may see these activities :
Pond hockey
Access to Foss Farm trails
Social gathering
Chili festival
5,700 linear feet of ice use

In Summer
Access to Foss Farm trails
24 acres of water rights for boating,
6,000 feet of public shore line out of 13,000
Durham, NH