MassCEC provided $1.1 million of the total $4.2 million project cost for the installation of a new inflatable crest gate at the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence.
The project, which includes a new crest gate that uses an inflatable system to improve the control of water flow, was the result of a partnership between the Commonwealth and the dam’s owner, Enel Green Power.
Completed in 1848, the Great Stone Dam is central to the history of the City of Lawrence. The water behind the dam was diverted into canals that produced water power to power the mills for which Lawrence became known.
For many years, the crest gate on the Great Stone Dam consisted of a series of wooden flash boards held by large metal pins, and dam workers heroically undertook the arduous (and dangerous) process of rowing a boat across the top of the dam to insert the flash boards. This picture shows the old wooden gates in place.
Tthe new inflatable crest gate, which eliminates the need for that terrifying trip out onto the top of the dam, gives dam operators better control of river flows, and provides added public benefits — flood control on the Merrimack River, more clean energy production, fish habitat management, and improved worker safety.