NSRWA is a leading advocate in Massachusetts working to reconnect rivers and streams by removing dams and restoring cranberry bogs. Dams trap sediment and create stagnant conditions, making the water warmer and less inhabitable. Dams also block the movement of fish. Most dams on the South Shore were built in the 1700s and 1800s to power small mills. These dams have outlived their original purpose and are aging.

Dam removal not only improves access for migratory fish like river herring, alewife, and Eastern brook trout, but also improves water quality, helps maintain streamflow, and improves water habitat. Without dams blocking their free passage, fish populations can increase, providing more food for the animals that eat them like striped bass, bluefish, osprey, and herons.

Since 2002, NSRWA has removed two dams in our own watershed and through our MassBays South Shore partnership supported our partners on the South Shore to:

  • Restore 2 bogs
  • Create 14 miles of partial access through fish passage structures
  • Open 17 miles of streams and rivers
  • Remove 23 dams

Together with town, state and federal partners, and other South Shore watershed groups, we have made remarkable progress, but there is more to do. Overall, 9% of available habitat has been re-opened, but 71% is still blocked by dams. Only 2 of the 65 dams in the North and South Rivers Watershed have been removed.  We aim to remove in our own watershed and help our partners remove as many dams as possible, freeing our streams and rivers.

Current Dam Removal Projects

In Norwell and Hanover the NSRWA is working to restore the Third Herring Brook.

“Our vision for the future of Third Herring brook is to have all three dams removed. And then we’ll have a place where people can go and see thousands and thousands of herring migrating where nothing is happening now.”

Sara Grady, NSRWA Ecologist/South Shore Regional Coordinator for MassBays Program

South Shore Dams Removed

  • 2002 Water Street Dam and Billington Street Dam, Town Brook, Plymouth
  • 2009/2010 Eel River Restoration, 8 dams, including Sawmill Pond Dam, Plymouth
  • 2011 Wapping Road Dam, Jones River, Kingston
  • 2012 Wellingsley Brook Dams (3), Plymouth
  • 2014 Mill Pond Dam, Third Herring Brook, Norwell/Hanover; Off Billington Street Dam, Town Brook, Plymouth
  • 2015 Plymco Dam, Town Brook, Plymouth
  • 2016 Tack Factory Pond Dam, Third Herring Brook, Norwell/Hanover; Tidmarsh Farms Restoration (3 dams)
  • 2017 Hunters Pond Dam, Bound Brook, Scituate/Cohasset
  • 2018 Holmes Dam, Town Brook, Plymouth

More cool videos from our partners on dam removals on the South Shore!