In 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Division (NOAA Fisheries), in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NJ Department of Environmental Protection agreed that the removal of the Weston Dam in Manville and Franklin Township is an important environmental restoration priority.
The agencies have proposed that the dam be removed with funding from a private party that is required to compensate the state for past damages to natural resources under the Superfund law. The final permits for the dam’s removal must still be secured but the project is tentatively scheduled to occur in the summer of 2017.
Removal of the dam, just north of the Weston Causeway, would be a major step toward the restoration of American shad, striped bass, blueback herring, gizzard shad, American eel and other migratory fish in the Millstone River that have been absent for nearly 300 years.
The project will include an evaluation of the fish ladder at Island Farm Weir near the confluence of the Raritan and Millstone rivers. Preliminary studies have shown that the fish ladder has not been as efficient as hoped to help fish migrate upstream on the rivers.
According to the NOAA report, the Weston Dam has a large breach on its eastern side and several cracks in the structure that allow water to flow quickly. Removal of the dam is cited as a method for preserving what is left of the mill’s ruins.
The project would restore the ecological integrity of over 14 miles of the Millstone River from Lake Carnegie in Princeton and where it joins the Raritan River a few miles from the dam.