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Voluntown - Two and a half years after the series of six state-owned dams along the Pachaug River and nearby streams sustained heavy damage in the March 2010 floods, repairs are at last complete.
This week the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced that the swimming area at Green Falls Pond in Pachaug State Forest has reopened. It had been closed all summer while water levels in the pond were low to enable repairs to the dam at its southern end.
"We drained it to allow us to work on the dam, and it refilled slowly," Art Christian, supervising civil engineer in the Inland Water Resources division of DEEP, said Friday.
The Green Falls Pond dam was the last among the state-owned dams in Griswold and Voluntown to be repaired. The dams at Ashland Pond, Glasgo Pond, Pachaug Pond, Beachdale Pond and Phillips Pond all needed fixing after the 2010 floods. The work cost about $431,000, with the Phillips Pond dam needing the most extensive and costly repairs, totaling $146,800.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency covered 75 percent of the costs, with the state paying the remainder, Christian said.
At the Green Falls Pond dam, originally built in 1870, about $46,000 worth of repairs included replacing stone riprap displaced by the floodwaters and grouting the stones together. Before the floods, there was no cement holding the stones in place, Christian said.
The dam spillway and the top of the dam were also fixed as part of the project, said Dwayne Gardener, DEEP spokesman. The work was done by L R Enterprises of Litchfield.
Crews also applied herbicides to the masonry wall of the dam. Roots of weeds growing on the wall would eventually undermine the wall, Christian explained.
The pond, located off a rugged dirt road deep in the 24,000-acre forest - the state's largest - is a picturesque, quiet enclave that, despite its relatively remote location, is beloved by many.
"It's a beautiful spot that gets used a lot," Christian said of the pond, which also has a boat launch popular with fishermen and a campground near the swimming area.