Cotton Gin Dam, Satucket River, E. Bridgewater, MA. Nick Tyack photo.

The Massaquatuckett ('Satucket') River is fed by several large natural ponds on the northeast edge of the Taunton River watershed in southeastern Massachusetts. The river is blocked at its lower end by a small, abandoned dam at the Carver Cotton Gin mill in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Records show the dam was equipped with a fishway in 1918 but at some time in the 1950s era the fishway was allowed to fall apart, leaving the dam impassable to native alewives and other fish. This caused the very large native alewife run at Robbins Pond and Monponsett Pond to go extinct.

In 2000 the structural failure of the Cotton Gin dam caused the Mass. Office of Dam Safety to issue an enforcement order against its owner, Robert Heavey of Natick, Mass., to open all of the dam gates permanently until the dam was rebuilt or removed. For the past 12 years the dam has only held back water during spring floods but remains a complete barrier to migrating fish and a safety hazard to canoeists and kayakers.

Seeing no actions or resolution to the ongoing nuisance caused by the dam in the past decade, in 2012 KR members targeted the dam for removal by collaborative and/or legal action. Attempts by KR this spring to seek a cooperative agreement with the dam owner to remove the structure using public monies were rebuffed by the dam owner.

BRIEFING and SUMMARY:  Satucket River Restoration Overview.

PROJECT STATUS: Mass. Div. of Marine Fisheries is now investigating conducting a physical breach of the remaining dam structure pursuant to its authority under the Massachusetts fishway law.