United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Royal River Yarmouth, ME §206 Aquatic Restoration Project Updates


Meeting Notes:  Update Meeting with Janet Cote, Project Manager for the ACOE Section 206 study of the Royal River, along with Byron Rupp, ACOE.  Present (all remote): Janet Cote, Byron Rupp, Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein


Meeting Notes from Nat Tupper:  Present (all remote): Janet Cote (USACE Project Manager), Nat Tupper (Yarmouth Town Manager), Karin Orenstein (Yarmouth Town Councilor)

See sediment sampling site maps below:


(see two map attachments below)


From Nat Tupper’s (Yarmouth Town Manager) Notes on Meeting with USACE. Present: Jane Cote (USACE Project Manager), Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein (Yarmouth Town Council) 

1. Ben Loyd (USACE) collected Royal River sediment samples the week of October 2 and those have been sent to the lab for analysis—about 30 days for test results. The Town requested a map of actual sampling locations be sent as well. 

2. The town requested a video session (with public engagement) for the Corps to share findings on this aspect of the work in progress in the week of November 27- Dec 1 if findings are ready and the schedule permits; or early December if more time is needed. 

3. A meeting between the 206 Project Delivery Team (PDT) and the ERDC [U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center] had been held this week and plans were being formulated and schedules coordinated for the ERDC to do its site visit in early November. The ERDC will look further at issues and data related to physical sediment and river conditions as well as adjoining tributaries. 

4. The Corps is preparing a request for the Town to do additional probing of material/river conditions just upstream of the Elm Street dam to confirm or correct assumptions and understandings of the amounts and locations of fine-grained sediment as well as large cobble, gravel, or ledge bottom. This will help with cost estimating for removal and upland disposal of sediment before any work is done. 

5. Janet will check back with Tom M [Tom Mihlbachler, USACE H&H Engineer] for a status update regarding the completion of the H&H modeling, subject to QA/QC review and verification. 

6. Nat reported on findings related to ownership of the penstock with the mill owner and adjoining property owner. 

7. The Town has contracted for engineering work to understand what action may be required regarding the granite block retaining wall at Grist Mill Park. It is understood that work on the dam(s) or fish ladder(s) upstream would have no impact on the wall and is not part of the 206 or Army Corps work. But the Town needed to have a structural assessment completed for public safety. 

8. The group revisited and reaffirmed a prior understanding that in addition to dam removal (or not) options, that partial removal or modification of either or both dams and/or fish ladders could be considered if such option are effective at achieving habitat/aquatic restoration results, but all options are subject to determinations on a host of other important considerations including, but not limited to engineering/structural concerns, costs, aesthetics, historic references/preservation, public safety, impacts on and preferences of abutters, wetland and aquifer impacts, flooding and scouring concerns, recreational values, etc. The feasibility study is intended to identify and evaluate best options. 

9. The Coordinated Site Visit of review agencies is still to be rescheduled- probably in November when more agencies can attend, and, in particular the NMFS [National Marine Fisheries] and the USFW [US Fish and Wildlife] staff. 

10. We confirmed through Janet that the Aquatic Restoration (206) Study is maintaining close contact with the navigation division so that whatever action may be taken (if any) for restoration may be anticipated and coordinated with navigational maintenance.

11. Janet had sent a quarterly financial statement (federal and local funds drawdown statement) on the feasibility study to date and will provide us a future cash flow estimate soon. 



From Nat Tupper’s Notes on Meeting with USACE. Present: Jane Cote, Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein (Yarmouth Town Council), Heather Abbott (Yarmouth Town Council) 

1. Janet Cote reported that Ben Loyd will visit next week to get sediment samples to test for pollutants in the Royal River. An updated sediment testing plan/map will be provided to the town. Janet’s expectation is that getting sample test results back from the labs generally requires about 30 days and thereafter Ben will need some time to review and consider those lab findings. 

2. The ERDC (USACE Engineer Research Development Center) will be providing an assessment of sediment mobilization issues. No date was provided for when the assessment will be done. 

3. Donnie Faughnan will lead a Coordinated Site Visit team (representatives of review and advisory agencies) to familiarize them with the sites. 

4. The Corps’ Public Affairs Office staff will take the lead on scheduling, planning and moderating a public informational session which will be in the evening and by remote access. But not during Thanksgiving week. 



From Nat Tupper’s Notes on Meeting with USACE. Present: Janet Cote, Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein (Yarmouth Town Council), Heather Abbott (Yarmouth Town Council): 

1. Members of the Project Delivery Team (PDT) visited Yarmouth on the morning of Sept. 6 and walked to view the East Elm Street dam, fishway, History Center, and St Lawrence and Atlantic trestle, Middle Falls, Beth Condon pedestrian bridge, Route 1 bridge, Bridge Street dam and fishway. The team drove to Grist Mill Park to view the falls and crossings, and then to the Harbor, MCRR trestle at Sligo Road, and finally Baston Park in North Yarmouth (at Route 9). USACE Team:Janet Cote – Project Manager/Planning, Parker Murray – Economics, Donnie Faughnan – Environmental, Grace Moses – Environmental, Tom Mihlbachler – H&H Engineering, Matt Fleming – Geotechnical Engineering, Marc Paiva – Cultural Resources, Kevin Hebard – Civil Engineering, and Mike Andryuk – Structural Engineering TOWN: Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein, Clark Baston (North Yarmouth DPW) 

2. A Coordinated Site Visit of the team is being scheduled for late October or early Nov. A public informational session is penciled in for early November if Ben Loyd has sediment sampling results analyzed by then. 

3. Janet will provide some cash flow/drawdown projections for future planning. Nat will inquire if any additional benthic survey data for the upper reaches of the impoundment has been done (in addition to the Stantec findings). 



From Nat Tupper’s Notes on Meeting with USACE. Janet Cote (Project Manager for the USACE) and Nat Tupper (Town Manager) meeting: 

1. A virtual Agency Coordination Site Visit will be held Wed., August 29. Several State/Federal agencies are anticipated to check in, including USFWS, NMFS, USEPA, MEDOT, ME Dept. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Historic Preservation Offices (3), Native American Tribes/Nations (5). 

2. Janet confirmed that sediment sampling will be discrete (not aggregated) samples, and to the extent that there is layering of sediment in the samples (cores), separate analysis will be done for the various layers. Janet reported the Corps’ determination that additional sampling in the impoundments is not necessary based on the amount of testing and analysis conducted [are reported] in prior studies, and because of the high degree of transport of suspended fines over the dam (Bridge St). Except for areas immediately upstream of the Elm Street dam, additional testing above Elm Street is not needed. Sediment transported downstream to areas immediately upstream of the dam will indicate contamination, if any. She will send a map of proposed sampling locations. 

3. Janet will check back with Tom M (H/H Modeler) to give us a status update on completion of the draft model. Janet thought he may be only needing QA/QC review now, but she was not sure and will reach out to him. She was reminded that we are interested in five study findings related to the H/H model including: Scour, Flooding, Recreational Impacts, Archaeologic and Historic Resources, and Sediment Transport/Removal. 

4. Post Meeting Addendum Note from Janet Cote: “I spoke with Tom about your questions on the H&H modeling. The model will be finalized when we develop the Tentatively Selected Plan (winter 2024). With regard to the considerations below, the H&H model will help to inform Tom and other members of the team on the impacts of the alternative on these topics. And they will be addressed in the feasibility report. For example, #4 archeological/historical sites. The H&H model will provide a predicted level of draw down on the river at different flow levels for each alternative that we are considering. Marc will take that information, and with the data provided from the Maine SHPO, will describe the impacts of each alternative on those resources.” 

5. A stakeholder’s note of inquiry was forwarded to the Corps on August 18 includes a comment about ledge or other barriers to fish passage (other than the dams). That inquiry was acknowledged; the question is not new, and the Corps is aware of prior identification and projects associated with ledges and barriers (granite blocks). But the question was referred back to Donald Faughnan and the Project Team for consideration. 

6. We confirmed our intention to wait for sediment sampling test results and analysis to schedule a public virtual meeting to share the still early findings and work to date. 

7. Nat asked about removal of the penstock pipe which blocks access to the block retaining wall at 80 Bridge Street. We would like to determine if removal of the penstock can be incorporated into the project construction when/if any construction occurs which involves dam removal or alteration. Janet will review with the structural engineering and real estate team members. It is possible that it may have to be a 100% local sponsor project element, depending on whether or not its removal is deemed essential to the project scope.



From Nat Tupper’s Notes on Meeting with USACE. Town of Yarmouth meets with Janet Cote (New USACE project manager) who conveys the following: 

1. USACE will set up a virtual meeting with federal and state agencies. 

2. A project management plan will be circulated to the project management team and town. 

3. Ben Loyd is scheduled to do sediment sampling in early September and Janet Cote (project manager) will confer with him to estimate a time schedule when testing results are returned and considered by the team. 

4. Results and analysis will take about 30 days after the samples are submitted, so Ben suggests a November public meeting if sharing that data is an objective. 

5. The sediment work will include grain size analysis of discreet samples i.e., sieve testing (not composite samples). Nat Tupper (Town Manager) reported that Maine DOT announced replacement of the Rte. 88 bridge over Royal River is now on their work schedule (2025/2026 constructions seasons) and suggested a contact with the engineering/planning teams of the ACOE and MDOT should be established so any design or potential construction activity is informed. 



From Nat Tupper’s Notes on Meeting with USACE. New USACE project manager Janet Cote has been hired for the Royal River Restoration project (FID 206) Mr. Rupp’s (USACE interim project manager) understanding was that the sediment sampling and analysis was not part of Phase 1 but would be a part of a subsequent phase. However, since there is no Project Management Plan in place yet, the question is largely academic as there is no disagreement as to the need for the work to be done. The essential difference is whether or not the Town’s initial payment was intended to cover the local cost share or not. Mr. Rupp could not determine from the files how Kristine Reed (original Project Manager) had arrived at her cost estimates and in which phase of the study the various tasks were to be accomplished. The Cost-Sharing Agreement between the Town and the Corps does establish the total estimated project cost and local vs federal shares. We agreed that a detailed Project Management Plan (PMP) would have been helpful to clarify the steps, sequences, tasks, schedules and projected costs, and is the customary way that the Corps approaches these studies. END


RRA Summary of USACE Zoom PROGRESS REPORT to the Town of Yarmouth. March 17, 2023 (see VIDEO Link for the full meeting) Presented by: Tom Mihlbachler, Army Corps H/H Modeler, Water Resources Engineer and Byron Rupp (Interim Project Manager) 

PROJECT OVERVIEW (given by Byron Rupp, USACE Interim Project Manager, provided slides stating the following) 

1. Purpose of the project is to assess the removal of the two dams above head of tide on the Royal River owned by the Town of Yarmouth: Bridge St. dam and Elm St. dam, both dams have nonfunctioning fishways. 

2. Proposed feasibility study will develop an array of alternatives to support the fish passage restoration goals. 3. Alternatives could include: a. no action alternative make no improvements to the project area (fish barriers remain); b. dam/fishway removal, partial removal or modification of existing structures; c. new fish passage structures. 

RESULTS OF H&H MODELING (by Tom Mihlbachler, USACE Engineer, said that these are draft modeling results and have not been through a QC process and have not been finalized by USACE.) 

A. WATER VELOCITY: H&H Modeling shows water velocity and flow with and without dams. 

1. At the First Falls (Grist Mill) with and without the dams the [flow] images are almost identical and so we would not expect to see a scour concern during a 100 year storm. 

2. At the Bridge St. dam during a 100-year storm event without the dams, there is a significant increase in water velocity through the bridge site itself due to the narrowing and lowering of the floodplain through that area. The floodplain footprint within the impoundment with the dam in place is greater than without the dam. 

3. At the Elm Street dam during a 100-year event without the dams, there is an increase in flow around the dam itself and there is flow through the Foundry Channel. During “normal” events, flow through the Foundry Channel might not occur. 

B. RIVER ELEVATION: H&H Modeling shows river elevation with and without the dams 

1. River elevation change at low flow 35 CFS (e.g. September) without the Bridge St. dam is a decrease of 3 feet in its impoundment and without the Elm St. dam is a decrease of 4-5 ft in the Elm Street dam impoundment. 

2. River elevation change at 300 CFS (e.g. March): would be similar to without the dams. 

3. River elevation change during a 100-YR event (10,536 CFS) would be basically the same with and without the dam. (A 100-YR event = 1% chance of happening). 

USACE COMMENTS: Byron Rupp (USACE Interim Project Manager) Bathymetry around the Elm St. dam is not complete. Additional probing behind the Elm St. dam is needed to find the sediment volume—dredging before the construction is possible. Rupp states there’s a lot of good literature on the sediment that we can use to inform the study. Bryon Rupp stated, “This spring USACE will work on site to collect the sediment data when it is safe to do so.” 


1. Affirm the Town wants to move forward with the study 

2. Assemble project delivery team 

3. Develop project management plan 

4. Develop sediment analysis plan 

5. Establish regular check-ins with community.



Nat Tupper (Yarmouth Town Manager) advises interested parties that the USACE H/H model presentation will take place via Zoom on March 17, 2023 at 10:00AM.


TM Nat Tupper advises interested parties that there will be a presentation of the USACE’s draft H/H model in March 2023.


Byron Rupp (interim project manager) advises TM Nat Tupper (Town Manager) that data for the H/H model has been collected, they are moving forward with modeling, and he will have an update in mid-January.


In an email to RRA co-chair Christine Force, TM Nat Tupper reminds RRA that completing the H/H model doesn’t mark the end of the H/H study. USACE will still need to run the model “with various scenarios to understand impacts on a variety of potential concerns (scour, sediment transport, structural and historical considerations, habitat and fish passage, etc.)….”


USACE conducts bathymetry behind the Elm Street dam. The same team evaluates the harbor for dredging.


At the Maine Dredge meeting, as recorded in the meeting minutes, Dr. Christine Reed (project manager) says that the Yarmouth first phase of the 206 study was 85% complete.


During the fall Dr. Reed leaves, and Byron Rupp becomes interim project manager.


RRA learns from TM Nat Tupper that Dr. Reed (project manager) says the model will be done in a couple of weeks.


Senator King's office (John Brady) responds to RRA that USACE stated that the work would be done in September and advises the RRA to wait.


Disappointed by the lack of progress, the RRA sends a letter to Senator King's office.


During a telephone call with Nat Tupper (Town Manager) to discuss modeling progress, Dr. Reed (USACE project manager) says it will be done by August/September.


Dr. Reed (USACE project manager) does NOT update Town Manager Nat Tupper in May.


Nat Tupper (Town Manager) reports that USACE is reviewing the Stantec reports on its sediment study (as a replacement or preparatory work for USACE’s own, yet to be commenced sediment study?).


During a telephone call with Nat Tupper (Town Manager), Dr. Reed (USACE project manager) advises that Tom Mihlbachler (USACE Engineer) is working on the H/H model and is dedicated to that project for the month of April. Dr. Reed will be away in April and will provide an update on the model and project status when she returns in May. Tom reported that so far all the data provided (e.g. the Stantec work) is aligning very tightly with the data and modeling work done by USACE which adds confirmation of the reliability of that work done. It appears that USACE did not take sediment samples before winter 2021-22.


RRA is advised that USACE would aim to have their environmental sampling done before winter weather sets in.


Dr. Reed (project manager) views the project as commencing in October (two months after contract is fully executed).

Although the Town of Yarmouth has requested a scope and schedule of work, neither is provided.


USACE signs the contract (two months after TC signs it).


Yarmouth Town Council signs the negotiated contract with USACE.


The USACE says the Town needs to contract for the full project.

Town attorney works with USACE to revise the contract wording to allow the Town to pull out of the program after Phase 1, per Dr. Christine Reed (project manager) representation. Resolution of this conflict results in a multi-month delay.


TC unanimously votes to commit to USACE 206 Restoration Feasibility Study (Phase I) and approves funding.

During the public debate on the USACE 206 Restoration Feasibility Study (Phase I, Feasibility Study), various Town Councilors indicate support for removal of the Bridge Street dam, but agree to wait based on USACE’s representation that the Phase 1 studies – the results of which the Town would otherwise need to duplicate at its own expense – will be completed within a year. Marina representatives state they have no opposition to dam removal in principle but ask that their interests be taken into account and note that they trust the USACE to conduct proper testing.


At a Town Council ops meeting, Dr. Christine Reed (project manager) made the following representations via zoom:

USACE is not fast or cheap, but they do cost sharing.

—A typical feasibility study is 18-36 months.

—It can take 3-5 years to complete a project with USACE.

—The Town could contract in phases with the USACE. Upon completing a contracted phase, the Town could choose not to proceed with remaining phases.

—The estimated full project cost is $660,000 (or $280,000 after $100,000 of federal funding and 50/50 cost-sharing of the remainder). This estimate is high because it covers all possibilities, including studies USACE would need to conduct if dam removal is not feasible. However, if initial hydrology/hydraulic (“H/H”) and sediment studies show that dam removal is feasible, any additional studies would become unnecessary and the total cost will be substantially reduced.

—This estimate does not include construction costs, which are shared 65/35.

—The first phase would consist of H/H and sediment studies and would be completed in approximately one year. The estimated cost for that is $180,000 or $52,500 with federal funding and cost-sharing. When that phase is completed, we will know if dam removal is feasible (which would obviate further studies and reduce the overall project cost).

—The USACE would not rely on the work of others (like Stantec) but instead will complete the project using its own methodology. This does not mean there was anything wrong with prior studies; USACE just does things its own way.

—The Town could contract with USACE to look at both dams and still decide to remove the lower dam while USACE is doing its work.

—The USACE “would never take a dam out and just [let] all the sediment behind it, just float down[stream]. It would kill everything, whether it was contaminated or not. We generally [de-]water the area, we dry it out and” remove the dry sediment “put it somewhere uplands, not in the water.”


USACE notifies the Town of Yarmouth that they have completed the USACE 206 Evaluation and it meets their criteria to proceed.


The Town of Yarmouth with assistance from Landis Hudson (Maine Rivers) submits a FID 206 request to USACE to help with Royal River restoration.