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Advocates Pushing for Dam Repair Bill in Mass. House

Several groups in Massachusetts are advocating for a bill that would provide funds to repair or replace dams in the state. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Senate Bill 1985 – legislation that would provide funds to repair dams across the states – passed the Senate last year. Now, several groups are advocating for its passage in the House before the end of the session.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association is one of them. Executive Director Geoff Beckwith…

Although many of the dams may be privately or publicly owned, Beckwith said it’s up to the cities and towns to keep their residents safe in case of accident.

A report conducted in 2010 by the state auditor’s office shows that of the 100 most dangerous dams in the state, several are located in Berkshire County – including 3 in North Adams, and 2 in Pittsfield.   

Abbie Goodman, Executive Director of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts, says that a large portion of the 3,000 dams in Massachusetts were constructed in the Industrial Revolution – and that it’s time to do something about them.

The Nature Conservancy has also signed on their support of the legislation. Steve Long, Director of Government Relations, says that the removal of old dams can support the health of river ecosystems, and that often times federal dollars can be leveraged to finance such initiatives.

4th Berkshire District Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli says that passing this bill is an important step for improving the state’s infrastructure.

The House of Representatives has until the end of the current legislative session on July 31st to vote on the bill.