The dam at the east end of Woodbury Pond in Litchfield is seen June 15. The town’s Public Works department recently placed 12 large sandbags along the east wall of the Woodbury Pond Dam as part of a temporary fix to a leak. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

LITCHFIELD — The town’s Public Works department recently placed 12 large sandbags along the east wall of the Woodbury Pond Dam, which began to leak earlier this year, as part of a temporary fix while town officials determine the best course of action for a permanent solution.

The issues were discovered this spring, when dam keeper Terry Averill noted that the stone riprap next to the right side of the upstream training wall was settling, and that water was seeping around 7 feet and intensifying at 7 1/2 feet.

From there, the town began working with Wright-Pierce, a Topsham based engineering firm, who surveyed the dam with geotechnical consultants from Haley & Aldrich. When engineers discovered a loss of materials within a 10-foot area of the embankment, an item was added to the June Litchfield Town Meeting warrant to add $55,000 to the municipal budget to help repair the dam, which is near Tacoma Lakes State Park land.

If the dam deterioration is left unchecked, the roadway across from the dam could become impassable, and the water level in the Tacoma Lakes would be significantly lowered, negatively impacting animals and plant life as well as surrounding property values, according to Town Manager Kelly Weissenfels.

With the additional funds approved, the town first considered a two-phase approach with the short-term fix involving the installation of sandbags and pressure grouting and the second phase involved a permanent fix. The initial short-term fix was estimated to keep the dam stable for up to two years.

Town officials are now looking at a more direct path to the long-term fix, which they estimate could save approximately $150,000 compared to the first plan. The new plan would forego the pressure grouting and just involve the sandbag installation for the first phase. Then the town would go directly to the long-term fix.


By only installing sandbags, which the town did Monday, the issues are kept at bay for up to seven months instead of two years.

Weissenfels said Thursday that the town is waiting for the engineers at Wright-Pierce to provide them with several possible courses of action for a permanent fix. In the meantime, Weissenfels, the dam committee chair and a member of the select board will give a presentation about the issue to selectmen in Monmouth, a town that borders Litchfield, to see if they would be willing to assist in paying for the long-term fix.

While the town has not yet agreed to one particular long-term repair method, Weissenfels said it is leaning toward installing a sheet pile cutoff wall on the upstream face of the dam.

When the select board met Monday, Weissenfels said one resident raised concerns about this method, as it has an “oxidized” appearance.

“During the meeting the board chair, who has had experience with a lot of dam work in his previous employment, said that what happens is you place the sheet, cut it to the level of the dam, and backfill it,” Weissenfels said. “So there won’t be a huge structure looming over the dam. It will look pretty much the way it does now if we go that route.”

As of Thursday, he said the dam has not shown any signs of further degradation, and that officials are hoping to get the permanent fix completed as soon as possible. Ideally they would like to see the work complete next spring, or next fall at the latest.

He said they are hoping to make a final decision by the week of Thanksgiving.

“It might be the 22nd, but it might not be until December, depending on when we get that engineering report,” he said.

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