Hands Mill Dam Removal

In June 2020, Winooski NRCD solicited proposals from consulting engineers who are experienced in dam removal design and licensed to practice in Vermont for a comprehensive geomorphological assessment, preliminary (30 percent) design and sediment management plan for removal of Hands Mill Dam in Washington, VT. This RFP is now closed and selection process is pending. For reference, formal Request for Proposals and Attachments are available below:

About the Dam

Hands Mill Dam, located in and owned by the Town of Washington, impounds a segment of the Jail Branch, a tributary to the Winooski River.  Constructed to impound more than 500,000 cubic feet, it is subject to regulation under 10 V.S.A. §1082 and falls under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Dam Safety Program.  State ID number is 225.01. Its initial build date is unknown, but there was a mill on site as early as 1866 that may have used an early timber dam for mechanical power. Shortly after the November 1927 flood, the dam was reconstructed with concrete and the mechanical power feature was lost. Hands Mill is a classified as a Significant Hazard potential dam and recent Dam Safety reports indicate that a sudden failure could cause “probable loss of life and property damage.” This potential loss of life may trigger a reclassification to “High Hazard” under Vermont’s new Dam Safety regulations which are scheduled to launch in 2020 and 2022. Compounding the hazard classification risks is the dam’s current condition. The overall condition of the dam is poor, partially breached and continues to deteriorate and progressively breach. Winooski NRCD is working in partnership with the Town of Washington, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to launch Phase 1 – Preliminary design (30%) to remove Hands Mill Dam and restore the upstream channel for hazard mitigation, aquatic organism passage, stream equilibrium, and water quality. The full project scope will later include 100% design for dam removal, stream bed and bank remediation, floodplain and wetland restoration, and historical documentation.