Project to Rebuild Diamond Mill Pond Dam Underway in South Mountain Reservation
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 • 8:39pm
MILLBURN, NJ - A project to rebuild the Diamond Mill Pond dam in the South Mountain Reservation is underway.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. gave details of the project at a press conference today at the site near Glen Avenue and Brookside Drive in Millburn. The dam updates are expected to improve control of the flow of water along the West Branch of the Rahway River and the water level in Diamond Mill Pond.
The improvements were welcomed by Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff, who attended, along with a contingent of Essex County freeholders, administrators and engineers and representatives of the design firm and the contractor.
“It’s wonderful that the county undertook getting the dam rebuilt,” Haimoff said. “The work needed to be done, and it will have a positive effect on Millburn.”
The mayor and other members of the Millburn Township Committee have been working to alleviate chronic flooding in the downtown and South Mountain areas of the township.
Haimoff said the dam is not one of the projects of the Mayors Coalition on the Rahway River, which she initiated last year in the wake of floods from Tropical Storm Irene and other heavy rainfalls. That group is seeking to have a dry detention basin built further upstream.
She suggested, however, that perhaps other entities were made aware of the need for controls through the coalition’s advocacy efforts.
DiVincenzo said he is aware the whole waterway needs attention.
“[The dam]’s not the answer to all your problems,” he quipped to Haimoff.
“It is an absolute plus,” she countered.
DiVincenzo then explained that he has been speaking with the new mayor of Orange, which owns Campbell’s Mill Pond further upstream, regarding improvements there.
The dam will be reinforced with approximately 12,000 square feet of articulated concrete block, also known as armored concrete. In addition, the concrete abutment will be replaced, the concrete cap and spillway will be replaced and a new concrete headwall and 36-inch sluice gate to control the water level will be installed.
The dam is 277 feet in length and holds back water from the West Branch of the Rahway Rive to form Diamond Mill Pond, a 3.5-acre body of water.
The project is expected to be completed in September, according to DiVincenzo.
Records from the Essex County Department of Public Works archives indicate that a dam was constructed at the site in the early 19th century to control the river and provide power to the area’s paper mills, according to the Essex County Office of Public Information. The last time the dam was updated was in 1935, when an earth and stone dam was constructed.
A regular inspection by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) showed that the dam needed improvement. After Tropical Storm Irene last year, the DEP directed the county to lower the level of the water to three feet below the spillway.
HAKS engineering firm in Newark received a $90,094 contract to design the dam improvements. Navka Construction in Newark was awarded a publicly bid contract for $666,044 to perform the construction work.
The Essex County Department of Public Works is monitoring the project to ensure delays are avoided.
The project is being funded with a grant from the DEP’s infrastructure improvement trust fund.