CAMDEN — Town Manager Audra Caler has responded to questions on costs of reports on the Montgomery Dam and Megunticook River. She has also researched the historical maintenance and repair costs for the dam.

Dam and river reports

The cost to the town for the Montgomery Dam Feasibility Report released in  May 2019 totaled $31,563, according to Caler. The study was conducted by Inter-Fluve, a national company with a Maine office in Damariscotta.

The report was paid for with funds returned to Camden for its ownership share in the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. The funds were paid to the town when its contract for solid waste disposal changed to EcoMaine in Portland.

The Megunticook River Feasibility Report released in August cost $158,338, and was prepared by Inter-Fluve and Gartley & Dorsky.

A $140,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation paid for the study, along with funds from the town budget. Municipal funds came from a reserve account in the municipal budget for river restoration.

The cost of a Montgomery Dam Engineering Design report, currently underway, is $57,799.  A Maine Coastal Communities grant of $40,000 and a $10,000 “Shore Up” Grant from the Island Institute paid for the study, along with town funds.

The town’s match for the dam and seawall engineering report came a capital improvement account in the municipal budget for the Harbor Park seawall.

No fees were charged by speakers who made presentations at a town-sponsored events in July 2019 about the Montgomery Dam report, and who answered questions about provided information on Oct. 14 about the Megunticook River Feasibility Report, according to Caler.

Consultant Shri Verrill, of Midcoast Conservancy, which was paid $15,000, and Erin Spencer-Mullen, paid $6,840, were involved with community education and engagement prior to the pandemic, according to Caler.

Midcoast Conservancy returned $20,000 from a $35,000 contract to the town of Camden, as it is focusing its restoration work on Sheepscot River and no longer has capacity for the Megunticook River project, Caler wrote in an email. The amounts paid to Verrill and Spencer-Mullen were used as grant match.

Montgomery Dam historical costs

Costs to the town of Camden from 1993 to 2009 for the Montgomery Dam, documented by Caler, are upwards of $49,400. No repairs have been made since that time.

The results of Caler’s research can be found in the package for the Oct. 19 Select Board meeting, on the town of Camden website, camdenmaine.gov.

The town assumed ownership of the dam from Philip Montgomery in 1992. Montgomery paid $500 for a survey of the structural conditions, which pointed out the need for replacement of the gate and substantial work needed on the masonry and sluiceway, according to Caler’s research. Montgomery paid $7,602 to repair the gate at that time.

It is evident from correspondence between Montgomery and Town Manager Roger Moody that the ongoing operation, maintenance and capital expense associated with the dam were major factors in the decision for the town to assume ownership, Caler wrote.

These costs are for a long list of projects that can be grouped into the categories of repairing the masonry walls and concrete of the dam and replacing the gate and gate mechanisms.

Caler found documentation for $11,000 in repairs from 1993 to 1999. She also found documentation from Moody of repairs totaling $10,800 from 1996 to 2000. It is unclear if what Caler found are different repairs than Moody documents, or if there is some overlap.

In 2002 and 2003 more than 2.5 cubic yards of grout was pumped into the area surrounding the northwest corner of the dam to seal joints and leaking areas.

Work to replace the gate occurred over 2004 and 2005, and was delayed by high flows in the river in 2004.

Caler’s research also turned up information on repairs that were made, but where she could not locate documentation of costs.

Back as far as 2002, the Megunticook Dam Committee observed the concrete sluiceway was in poor condition. The sluiceway appeared to be in worse condition than it is now, she notes, but she is unable to find the cost of a repair.

In 2005, $28,950 was spent on repairs to the seawall, due to flooding, specifically where the dam connects to the Harbor Park wall, because the area failed, according to the memo. The repair was partially funded, and it is not clear from the research how much this cost taxpayers.

In 2009, Kleinschmidt, a company that inspected the dam, estimated the cost of $89,000 to resurfacie the spillway crest, which is 100 feet long.

In 2013, Prock Marine estimated $99,000 to replace deteriorated concrete and pour a 3-foot-wide by 12-inch-deep concrete crest. Prock also proposed installing a 3-foot-wide, 6-inch-deep granite cap and reducing the amount of concrete in the crest. The estimate included improving the gate and platform with steel frame and hardwood, and installing a new hand wheel-operated slide gate.

In 2017, the town budgeted repair to the dam base and crest at $60,000 and bid out the project. One bidder came back with an estimate that would range from $71,000 to $86,000, with options for repairing at the existing height, or lowering the dam.

In Dec. 2017, Select Board member Alison McKellar advocated for the Board members to discuss environmental impacts of dams before making any decision on the bid. The Board voted 4-1 to postpone bid selection.

As Caler writes in her memo, board members ultimately decided to undertake a feasibility study and commissioned Inter-Fluve to identify options for managing the Montgomery Dam into the future.