US Army Corps of Engineers Royal River Yarmouth, ME §206 Aquatic Restoration Project Updates

05-06-24

USACE Section 206 Study Bi-Weekly Project Update

Date: May 6, 2024, 3:30pm

Present: Janet Cote, Project Manager (remote), Karin Orenstein (remote), Scott LaFlamme (remote)





In addition to this public event, the USACE will be meeting on-site with impacted abutters. A specific date for site visits has not been determined but will likely occur in late June/early July as well. 



The meeting was adjourned at 4:25pm.

END

04-25-2024

USACE Section 206 Study "Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) was presented to the Town officials: see Presentation to the Town of Yarmouth.

04-10-2024

USACE Section 206 Study Bi-Weekly Project Update 

Date: April 10, 2024, 1:30pm

Present: Janet Cote, Project Manager (remote)

Karin Orenstein (remote)

Scott LaFlamme (remote)

As noted in an earlier update, at the conclusion of the April 25th presentation, Town representatives can disclose the TSP to the public, however, it’s important to remember that details may change up to, and until, the final report has been signed by the USACE. Public comments will be collected during the designated 30-day concurrent review period, which is expected to begin in June. 

In hopes of tightening communication between the two communities and addressing ongoing, or future, questions, Karin and Scott are coordinating a meeting with representatives from North Yarmouth.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:25pm.

END

03-26-2024

USACE Section 206 Study Bi-Weekly Project Update 


Date: March 26, 2024, 10:30am

Present: Janet Cote, Project Manager (remote)

Karin Orenstein (remote)

Scott LaFlamme (remote)



The meeting was adjourned at 11:15am

END

03-11-2024

USACE Section 206 Study Bi-Weekly Project Update 

Date: March 11, 2024, 3:30pm

Present: Janet Cote, Project Manager (remote)

Karin Orenstein (remote)

Scott LaFlamme (remote)


Members of the USACE Project Delivery Team (PDT) continue to work toward finalizing a draft Detailed Project Report/Environmental Assessment (DPR/EA), which will include the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP), in preparation for the TSP Milestone in April. Janet outlined the upcoming timeline of events:

Other Items:

Based on the compounding lines of evidence presented in this report including the environmental setting, bulk chemical concentrations, and volumes of material that might be mobilized and transported downstream, USACE finds that the sediments from the study area pose minimal potential risk to the marine environment in the Royal River estuary and Casco Bay under any of the proposed restoration project alternatives. 

No additional sampling and testing work will be planned unless there are significant changes within the river system such as introduction of new/additional contamination point sources, or a significant change in the volume of material that has accumulated behind either of the dams.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:15pm


END

02-27-2024

USACE Section 206 Study Bi-Weekly Project Update

Date: February 27, 2024, 2:00pm. Present: Janet Cote, Project Manager (remote), Karin Orenstein (remote), Scott LaFlamme (remote)


Members of the USACE project team are steadily making progress toward finalizing a draft Tentatively Selected Project (TSP) report. Given their current timeline, Janet, Karin, and Scott reviewed upcoming milestones:


Other project updates offered by Janet included:


The meeting was adjourned at 2:46pm


END

02-13-2024

USACE PUBLIC VIRTUAL MEETING FOR THE ROYAL RIVER SECTION 206 AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM

Meeting Highlights:


Final Report (Jan 2024): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pXBIMNqndqtB9i6eltvc6eaofTj3Pv0R/view?usp=sharing


Meeting Recording (Feb 2024): https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/Topics/RoyalRiver/Royal%20River_Yarmouth%20Maine%20Public%20Meeting_20240213.mp4


Meeting Slides (Feb 2024): https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/Topics/RoyalRiver/USACE_Royal%20River%20Section%20206_Public%20Meeting_Slides_Feb2024.pdf


END

02-05-2024

US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS 

PUBLIC NOTICE OF VIRTUAL MEETING FOR THE ROYAL RIVER SECTION 206 AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION STUDY YARMOUTH, MAINE 

Interested parties are hereby notified that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New England District, will host a virtual public meeting to provide an update on the Royal River Section 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Study in Yarmouth, Maine. The virtual meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at 6 p.m. EST. 

The meeting can be accessed via WebEx at https://usace1.webex.com/join/cenae-pa , or join by phone at 1-844-800-2712 (U.S. Toll Free) or 1-669-234-1177 (U.S. Toll) and use Access code: 199 945 8471. 

The information about the meeting and the feasibility study, and recordings of the meetings (when available) can be found by visiting: https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/missions/projects-topics/royal-river-aquaticecosystem-restoration-study/ 

Questions and comments on the project and meetings can be submitted by mail to the attention of Janet Cote, USACE, Planning Division, 696 Virginia Rd, Concord, MA 01742 or emailed to RoyalRiverYarmouthME@usace.army.mil.

END

Announcement pdf file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BnXXqYdiEc4fCN8zG-cmB3RD9vTWZJ0D/view?usp=sharing

01-29-2024

Meeting Notes: Update Meeting with Janet Cote, Project Manager for the ACOE Section 206  study of the Royal River, Monday, January 29, 2024, at 3:00 PM (With scheduling follow-ups).  Present (all remote): Janet Cote, Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein, and Scott Laflamme. 


Janet Cote provided the following status updates: 

Work is proceeding with all aspects of the study pending a consultation with the US Fish and  Wildlife Service regarding recommendations on if/how any interventions to further improve fish passage through the Middle Falls area. Work is moving forward on pace regarding the cost engineering estimates for removals and/or fish ladder modifications, and whether any such changes would be better considered and designed as a mitigation (follow-up) action. Also, work is continuing to complete analysis and reports other aspects of the assessment of options.  

The Corps is considering gathering additional information on prior dredge maintenance projects undertaken by commercial interests in the Royal River (in recent decades).  

Discussion followed on the timing and format of the public presentation tentatively planned for mid-February. The intent was/is to have the Corps host a public informational session to  provide the public with information on the progress and purpose of the study and lay out the  reporting and decision process going forward. The Corps’ plan has been to hold this as an on line (remote) informational session, with an opportunity after the Corps’ presentation for the  public to submit questions via chat or text to which members of the Corps’ Project Delivery  Team might be able to respond. 

Based on the conversations and the requests of some stakeholder, that plan has now been modified as follows:  

Monday, Feb 12th: Ben Loyd and Byron Rupp will schedule an in-person consultation with the Royal River Marina and Boatyard operators to discuss the project, and the concerns they each have relative to dredging and navigability issues, and hear other concerns they may wish to share about the challenges to their work relative to the role of the Corps. They will share and explain the preliminary indications of the sediment data and will listen to the marina’s concerns.  

Tuesday, Feb 13th: The Corps will hold a virtual public meeting, where all of the stakeholders and public will be invited to attend (log in). The entire PDT will be asked to be available on-line. The Corps plans on scheduling the evening meeting for 2 hours and will review what the Corps’ role is and what the elements and goals of the 206 Study are, and where we stand now relative to the project timeline. We anticipate there will be the ability to send in questions using the chat feature that Team members may be able to answer or consider. The current plan is that the Corps preliminary findings and recommended Tentatively Selected  Project will be recommended and reported around April 2024, with another public forum in an in-person format at a Yarmouth/local venue.  

The Town Council would thereafter consider the preliminary findings and Tentatively Selected Project and could either agree or petition the Corps to select a different “Locally Preferred”  from the available options. Thereafter, the Corps would proceed with the Tentatively Selected Project and the Locally Preferred Project (if different) through the remainder of the project.

Nathaniel J. Tupper/Town Manager 

January 30, 2024  These notes may be shared.  


Additional Explanatory Notes/Excerpts of the Project Schedule MP follows for reference only. NOTE: The 206-study process can be a bit difficult to follow sometimes, and we are moving toward a milestone point in the coming few weeks and months, so I’m pasting below some excerpts from the Project Management Plan that was circulated last year. I hope you find it helpful to remember or understand where we are in the process of the investigation.  

The next public briefing, tentatively scheduled for Mid-February 2024 (in whatever format/ venue is determined) will be a progress report and sharing of the work to date, as well as to explain the next critical steps.  

In April 2024 (or thereabout) the Corps is scheduled to issue a preliminary Detailed Project  Report and Environmental Assessment (DPR/ EA). That will be presented to the Town Council  and to the general public (date, format, etc. tbd). Current expectations are that the presentation will be an in-person presentation in a local public forum. The DPR/EA will include the Corps’  “Tentatively Selected Project” (e.g. dam removals(s), fish ladder replacements(s), do nothing, or some combination). The Town Council will need to deliberate and decide whether to have the Corps proceed with its Tentatively Selected Project (PSP) or to petition the Corps to consider a different “Locally Preferred Option”. The Corps will proceed to complete the Feasibility Phase of the Study on the Tentatively Selected Project (or the Locally Preferred Project if the request is approved). That completion of work is expected to take until about May of 2025 to complete.  

NJT: 1-30-24

Project Management Plan (PMP) Excerpt: Required Project Study Output: 

The required outputs of the feasibility study are an approved Integrated Detailed Project Report and Environmental Assessment (DPR/EA), including signed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The report will document the assessment of a narrow range of feasible alternatives and selection of a recommended proposal that meets the Section 206 authority criteria, is feasible, cost-effective, and is within funding constraints, and where real estate interests can be readily obtained by the sponsor. Cost-effectiveness is measured by a quantified output of environmental  benefits that an alternative may generate compared to the project cost to design and construct that alternative. The DPR/EA will document compliance with environmental requirements and will include coordination with Federal and state agencies. Feasibility analysis in the report will include assessment of real estate acquisition and access, feasibility-level cost estimate of a small range of alternatives (assume two plus the no-action), quantified ecosystem restoration benefits, environmental impacts, and ability to be permitted. The DPR/EA will refer to (without replicating effort) previous studies along with their associated documents. 

The PDT (Project Design Team) will undergo planning steps including problem identification and project purpose, inventory and forecasting conditions, alternative formulation and evaluation, benefit and cost analyses, and alternative comparison. Then the PDT will select a proposed alternative that meets the project purpose and is cost effective in providing ecosystem restoration benefits. This proposed alternative, known as the tentatively selected plan (TSP), will then be reviewed in a joint USACE New England District and North Atlantic Division (NAD) meeting for NAD approval to proceed to completion of the draft DPR/EA for technical review and public review.  

Once the draft DPR/EA is completed, the report will undergo a District Quality Control (DQC)  review at the USACE New England District, and the PDT will edit the draft report based on the  review. All functional elements from which staff is assigned to the project are responsible to assign staff for the DQC review and will certify that the work is accomplished consistent with the District’s Quality Control Plan (QCP). Then the DPR/EA will undergo an Agency Technical Review (ATR), USACE NAD review, and public review through public release of the draft report.  

An ATR is undertaken to "ensure the quality and credibility of the government's scientific  information" in accordance with this policy and regulations. This level of review will also cover any necessary National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents and other environmental  compliance products. An ATR is mandatory for all decision and implementation documents.  

The PDT will address the various review comments and revise and complete the final DPR/EA  along with a FONSI. The USACE New England District will then submit this package to the  USACE NAD, followed by signature by the New England District Engineer, for approval to proceed to the next project phase – design and construction (DI) phase. 

The success of the project is highly dependent on the PDTs communication and cooperation.  Each member of the PDT (both team members and sponsor representatives) provides information and support that is essential for the project. Each project has a unique set of goals, challenges, and constraints that determine the importance of each team member’s role. General descriptions of team member responsibilities are also available in the CAP Programmatic PMP.

.

END

01-17-2024

Meeting Notes:  Update Meeting with Janet Cote, Project Manager for the ACOE Section 206 study of the Royal River.  Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at 11:00AM. Present (all remote): Janet Cote (USACE Project Manager), Nat Tupper (Town Manager), Karin Orenstein (Town Councillor), and Scott LaFlamme (Yarmouth Assistant Town Manager).

Janet Cote provided the following status updates:

Ben Loyd is finishing his report on sediment testing results and will release that after an internal quality review.  He has indicated that the results overall are “clean” with no finding of mercury from the area previously discovered by Stantec (or elsewhere), and the PAH’s detected by Stantec (below threshold levels of concern concentrations) are still detectable but at even lower concentrations and would not be a permitting barrier for dam removal or dredge projects.

Tom M. (Mihlbachler) was able to incorporate Stantec’s recent probing data into the H/H model.  The data  supports the observation that the river is regularly scoured out to bedrock and little sediment is being held or settled behind the dams, except at riverbanks (the edges).  

Dr. Haring (ERDC) met with the Corps to discuss his findings from the site visit that was completed in November 2023. He is currently writing a report to describe his findings regarding sediment transportation in the Royal River. His observation was to the effect that conditions upstream of the Elm Street Dam (shallow soil layer or lack of soil, with exposed bedrock) are conducive to safe dam removal relative to downstream sediment impacts.  

Dr. Haring did anticipate a recreational impact: Because the H/H model anticipates the normal low water levels upstream of the Elm St dam will drop by about 4 ft with dam removal, river flow conditions will change recreational choices (with more shallow fast flowing areas and less deep flat-water area. This would support canoe and kayak recreation but not larger boats/rafts.   

Dr. Haring will plan to revisit the site in better weather conditions to do additional assessment of tributary conditions and contributions, to project what impacts, if any, will be  relative to mitigation measures that might be planned such as plantings and tributary bank stabilization.  Dr. Haring anticipates it would likely take 5-10 years for the revised equilibrium condition of the riverbanks and tributaries to re-establish. Final design and implementation of tributary impacts mitigation measures, if needed,  would be in the final Design and Implementation Phase (if action after the Feasibility Study/Permit Phase is advanced). 

The Construction/Civil Engineering team are putting together preliminary design and cost options for 4 alternatives that include the replacement of the fish ladders (with retention of the dam) and removal of both the dam and fish ladder at both the East Em Street and Bridge Street sites. The no action alternatives will also be evaluated in the cost-benefit analysis. 

Donnie F. will be assessing the environmental and habitat restoration impacts and benefits of each alternative.  Habitat benefits are broadly viewed, but there is a particular interest in fish passage outcomes.  {Note: Costs and Benefits consider a wider set of considerations including but not limited to water quality, temperature, aeration, recreational/cultural/historic impacts, O/M costs, flood, infrastructure, scour, safety etc.}

During the on-site Coordinated Site Visit with the resource agencies, which occurred in November 2023, the USFWS and National Marine Fisheries Service expressed concerns about fish passage at Middle Falls. The USFWS has been asked to consult with the Corps on developing options that would increase fish passage through Middle Falls. A separate (add-on) cost will be estimated for any modifications or actions recommended by the USFWS relative to Middle Falls and the back channel around Factory Island to encourage/assist some fish species movement.

Janet will follow-up with the Town on the quarterly project financial status and non-federal share requirements anticipated through September 30, 2024 (the end of the Federal Fiscal Year)  

The group discussed a public presentation of findings and progress to date to be made by the Corps in mid-February and tentative dates were proposed.  Janet will check with the Public Affairs Office on the dates and format, but we anticipate a remote access presentation with opportunities for the public members to be recognized to ask questions and/or to submit questions online during the meeting.  Janet will circle back once she can confirm the availability of date(s) and presenters so the Town can give notice to the public.  


END

12-18-2023

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

Work is proceeding but the Corps is waiting for data in four areas of investigation:


While waiting, engineering is working on design plans (and cost estimates) for full and partial dam removals.  And cost/benefit assessments are being outlined relative to overall aquatic restoration goals, safety and O&M costs for the current structures.  

END

12-04-2023

Meeting Notes:  Update Meeting with Janet Cote, Project Manager for the ACOE Section 206 study of the Royal River.  Monday December 4, 2023, at 3:00 PM Present (all remote): Janet Cote, Nat Tupper, Karin Orenstein

The Coordinated Site Visit was led by Donnie F.  Tuesday, Nov. 7 for State and Federal review agencies went well.  In addition, officials from the ERDC [Engineer Research and Development Center for the USACE] visited the area river and tributaries to look at the issues of sediment transport.  Further review of Middle Falls fish passage challenges, if any, remains a part of the assessments and any future cost-benefit analysis of options.  

Lab results for analysis of sediment samples taken by Ben Loyd are still not back yet.  Janet was not able to get an estimated delivery date update.  As reported before, once the lab results are back Ben will review and assess any findings and implications and we will schedule a virtual public presentation.  It is evident that it will not be prior to Christmas.  

Since the last report, Nat has contracted with Stantec to gather additional sediment profiling as requested to provide raw data to the Corps to input to the H/H model.  The Corps confirmed that this expense will be eligible as a Work-in-Kind expense and therefore a credit against the Town’s cost share.  Work will be done as soon as river conditions permit it to be done safely. 

Janet was reminded to inquire about the prior sampling results period of validity in review and permitting standards.   And Nat drew the Corps’ attention to questions of current dam structural stability with respect to apparent movement of stone blocks at the Elm Street dam. A request was made to bring the information presented in the New Meadows proposal to the attention of the design/engineering teams who are working on designs for full or partial removal of the dams as possible options. 

END

11-27-23

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

Janet Cote has returned from a brief leave and sought updates from team members.  Some team members have not yet provided updates as they have been out of the office for the Thanksgiving holiday since Janet’s return.

Ben Loyd advised that the lab processing the sediment samples is delayed well beyond the 30-day estimate for turning around results. The lab now expects results in “early December.”  As Ben will need time to review and analyze the lab results before a public meeting, and we will start getting into December holidays, it is not likely that we will be able to hold a public meeting about the sediment testing until January.  The ACOE Public Affairs Office (PAO) advised Janet that Tuesday evenings tend to work well for public meetings, so we “lightly penciled in” Tuesday, January 9th in the early evening for the public meeting.  As Ben’s ability to report on the results depends on receiving them, we will wait to officially select a meeting date until he receives the lab results.  The meeting will be virtual and moderated by PAO staff.  The PAO will also advertise the meeting in advance. 

The engineering team has been working on alternative designs for river restoration projects at each dam.  For each dam, they are creating designs for (1) full dam removal and (2) partial dam removal.  A third option, (3) fish ladder restoration, is being investigated by Donnie (ecologist) with input from FWS. So, for each dam, there are three options being designed plus the no-action option, which does not require a design.  All of these will be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis. For non-math folks, that’s 16 permutations – four options for dam #1 x four options for dam #2.  Full dam removal means removing all rocks or concrete down to the shoreline.  Partial dam removal means removing rock in the water, but leaving some elements of the original dam.  For example, partial dam removal at the Elm Street Dam could involve removal of the rocks on the right-descending bank, but leaving rocks in place on the left-descending bank where there is less flow.  

The cost-benefit analysis will also need to take into account factors that don’t easily lend themselves to having assigned dollar values.  For example, partial removal of the Bridge Street dam could have a similar cost-benefit analysis as full removal, but full removal may be preferable because there may be safety concerns if we leave partial structures in place.  It’s Janet’s task to see how factors like safety are included in the analysis.

Other teams are waiting on work currently being completed.  For example, the team handling the cost-benefit analyses will rely on the engineering team designs, Donnie’s model of costs and benefits, the sediment sample lab results, etc.

ERDC completed its field work and Tom M. (water modeling) is in contact with them.  ERDC is studying sediment transport and re-deposition at no extra cost to the Town.

ACOE reviewed two proposals the Town received for sediment transect probing to determine the amount of sediment at various cross-sections of the river.  Karin noted that Nat is in the process of hiring Stantec and that there may be some delays in performing the work because of recent and upcoming rainstorms that raise the water level.  The Town’s payment for this analysis is considered “work in kind” that is credited to the Town under our contract with ACOE.  Estimating the amount of sediment is relevant to the cost-benefit analysis, as is the sediment testing being done in the lab.  If the sediment lab results show the sediment is clean, it will be easier and less expensive to remove and dispose the sediment upland.  The amount of sediment necessarily impacts these costs as well.  

END

11-06-23 

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

The Coordinated Site Visit will be led by Donnie F.  Tuesday, Nov. 7 for any State and Federal review agencies.  It is still planned (subject to confirmation) that Tom M. will meet with ERDC on site to look at the river and tributaries to assess sediment transport and redeposition issues.   

Lab results for analysis of sediment samples taken by Ben Loyd are not back yet.   Once they are back Ben will review and assess any findings and implications and we will schedule a virtual public presentation.  At the presentation, the Corps will provide a summary of the sampling locations and how/why they were selected along with a summary of the findings.  The Feasibility Study, which will be issued later, will provide full details and supplemental data tables as well as an explanation of the findings. 

Janet will inquire about the time period of testing results (how long are current and prior samples and findings considered valid?) for the purposes of permitting in the event that sediments and/or dam removal are recommended.  

The request for addition sediment profiling by the Town was more extensive than anticipated, so Nat had reached out to Stantec and to New Meadows Environmental LLC  to seek a proposal to perform the additional profiling work as requested to provide raw data to the Corps to input to the H/H model.  It is anticipated that this will be Work-in-Kind eligible expense (i.e., credit the Town’s cost share).  Nat is waiting for a proposal (s)).  

Janet provided future cash flow estimates as requested.  

Regarding scheduling the public presentation about the sampling, all agreed that Ben Loyd needs whatever time is necessary to complete his review and make findings, after which a public presentation would be welcome.  If the schedule pushes up against Thanksgiving week, we would delay the presentation until early December, date tbd.  

10-26-23

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

The Coordinated Site Visit will be led by Donnie F the second week in November for any State and Federal review agencies.  Donnie is particularly interested in the insights of NMFS and USF&W Service advisors.  

Also that week, the ERDC (the Corps’ research group) will visit the site. ERDC is called in (without charge to the project funds) to assess and advise particularly on issues of sediment transport and redeposition. 

As expected, lab results for analysis of sediment samples taken by Ben Loyd are not back yet.  Once they are back Ben will review and assess any issues of concern.  Janet indicated that Ben plans to provide the Town with a sampling location map as requested as soon as he is back from other field work (different project).  That map should be sent shortly. (Note: Subsequently received and attached here.)

Tom M’s H/H model is complete for the baseline (current) conditions, subject to QA/QC review.  However, the model is intended to be able to run and guide the Corps in a variety of change scenarios (e.g., removal of one or both dams, new or rebuilt fish ladder(s), partial removal(s) etc.)  So, he will wait for the design option scenarios to plug into the model.  Those designs will be developed with advice of the coordinating agencies such as USF&W, NMFS, and others.  The Site visits will help move those design concepts forward.  

The Corps had previously requested that the Town assist with additional investigation of bottom conditions above the Elm St dam to locate the nature and scope of conditions so that gravel, cobble, ledge, fine silts etc. can be quantified and located.  The Town noted that weather and flow conditions are favorable now and so it would be best to get instructions soon so that the work can be safely done.  

Janet will meet with the Project Design Team tomorrow and will try to get their forecasts of work schedule and products to help predict cash flow requirements.  

See sediment sampling site maps below:

END 

(see two map attachments below)

10-12-23 

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) 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

END

9-27-23 

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

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

END


9-11-23 

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

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) 

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. 

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). 

END


8-28-23 

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

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). 

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. 

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. 

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.” 

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. 

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. 

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.

END

8-14-23  

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

END

4-4-23 

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

3-17-23

RRA Summary of USACE Zoom PROGRESS REPORT to the Town of Yarmouth. March 17, 2023 (click 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 (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 (Tom Mihlbachler, USACE Engineer, said that these are draft modeling results, which 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.” 


USACE PROPOSED NEXT STEPS (Byron Rupp, USACE Interim Project Manager)

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.


END

2/17/23 

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.

02/09/2023

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

12/16/2022

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.

11/15/2022

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.)….”

~11/2022

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

~10/2022

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.

~10/2022

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

~9/2022

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

7/18/2022

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.

7/12/2022

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

~6/2022

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.

~6/2022

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

~5/2022

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?).

04/01/2022

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.

11/2021

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

10/2021

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.

~8/2021

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

~6/2021

Yarmouth Town Council signs the negotiated contract with USACE.

~2/2021

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.

01/07/2021

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.

12/10/2020

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.”

~4/2020

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

~2013

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