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I-Team: Hundreds of crumbling dams across Massachusetts pose a hazard

I-Team: Hundreds of Crumbling Dams Across Massachusetts Pose a Hazard
I-Team: Hundreds of Crumbling Dams Across Massachusetts Pose a Hazard 02:24

GLOUCESTER - The West Pond Dam in Gloucester opens up to what looks like a bucolic scene with a babbling brook. But it's one of Massachusetts' dangerous dams, and this weekend, it's in the path of more rain.

"It's been here this long...but then again, anything can happen, a thousand-year storm, a hundred-year storm," said Steve Doe, who lives across from the pond.

The Mill Pond Dam in Falmouth is rated in poor condition. WBZ News

The WBZ I-Team obtained inspections through the years showing problems like "surface cracking," "sinkhole," and "erosion" in the West Pond dam. Back in May, state inspectors gave it an "unsafe" rating, the worst possible. There doesn't seem to be anyone available to fix it, because it's listed as abandoned. "The so-called owner that owns it, they can't find him," said Doe.

This week in Leominster, residents saw the destruction that can happen when a deteriorating dam is overwhelmed by heavy rain. Part of a wall on the Barrett Park Pond Dam gave way during downpours, sending water gushing. It left a huge crater in a road and destroyed a house about 500 yards downstream.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation's Office of Dam Safety gave the I-Team a list of more than 200 deteriorating dams across the state. Some are in coastal areas bracing for the effects of a potential hurricane Saturday. The condition of Mill Pond Dam in Falmouth is rated as "poor." So is Falmouth's Red Brook Dam, and the Nye Pond Dam in Sandwich.

There are seven dams in trouble in Gloucester. "These are situations there is no emergency repair for at the last minute," said Senator Bruce Tarr, who represents Essex and Middlesex Counties. He pointed to the Haskell Pond Dam, also listed in poor condition but currently under repair. "This is a tremendously large body of water, and if this were to be compromised, we'd have a flow right where we're standing right now, and that would be disastrous," said Tarr.

The state has set aside $4 million in 2024 for communities to fix or replace dangerous dams. You can check for potentially hazardous dams in your community right here.

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