BRENTWOOD — A judge has ordered the owner of a dam plagued by deficiencies to take immediate action to have it repaired or removed.
In a ruling last week, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge N. William Delker sided with the state Department of Environmental Services, which took legal action to address ongoing concerns over safety of the dam along the Exeter River.
The state has classified the dam as a “significant” hazard based on a dam failure analysis.
Delker found that the dam’s owner, Brentwood Dam Ventures LLC, committed various violations and must abide by the terms of an administrative order issued by the state last year.
The company must prepare and submit an emergency action plan within 30 days of the court order, which was issued on Sept. 5, and is required to either repair or remove the dam within 45 days.
If the dam, located off Mill Road, isn’t repaired or removed within 45 days, or if the company indicates that it won’t be able to take either action, DES will be able to remove it, with all “reasonable costs” charged to the company.
DES conducted a visual inspection of the dam in June 2017 and noted several violations regarding the condition of the structure, which was built in 1927 but stopped operating as a hydroelectric dam many years ago.
Deficiencies included significant cracks along the upstream concrete face and additional cracks and leaks on the downstream face, according to the state.
Gate stems and boards were also found to be rotten and the gate was stuck partially open, collecting debris.
DES reviewed records and said it found no operation, maintenance and response plan for the dam on file.
The department issued a letter of deficiency in August 2017 asking that the owner repair the dam; develop an operation, maintenance and response plan; develop an emergency action plan; and hire an engineering consultant to perform dam-related assessments and analyses.
Naoto Inoue, principal of Brentwood Dam Ventures, has told the New Hampshire Union Leader that the company couldn’t afford the repairs or the removal of the dam.