Thursday, September 29, 2011

My own failing dam

I run a story about a judge halting the Belo Monte dam project, but with total hypocrisy I ignore the ailing hunk of concrete and rock in my back yard. I'm talking about a literal dam. Shown here after today's soaking rain, this dam does an erratic job of blocking a stream that flows into the Housatonic River.

Another fact is obvious in this photo. The dam is falling apart. When we bought the house ten years ago, the structure was in pretty bad shape, a result of having skipped the rebar when pouring the concrete. A decade of wear has collapsed the spillway even more, and allowed more water to flow around the edges of the concrete walls.

Local beavers do figure-eights in the headwaters, waddle ashore, and plug holes where they can, tut-tutting at our lack of attention to the unconfined water. Their own dams are upstream, and the inhabited ones are in great shape.

A proper repair would require permissions from our local Inland Wetlands regulators, which would probably be doable. Then comes the expense. A minimal job would cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Architectural Digest version would cost several times that at least. I've done dozens of drawings of artful concrete structures, and then set them aside.

For now, we're letting it fail, and enjoying the sound of rushing water.

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