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Flood Watch Issued As North Country Dam Drawn Down For Repairs

State officials say Brookfield Renewable Energy is drawing down water and initiating an emergency action plan after a failed attempt to fix a minor structural issue with a dam in the North Country.

The dam in question is a 5 megawatt hydro power facility on the Androscoggin River, just south of Berlin in the town of Gorham.

This is a smaller, low-hazard dam, meaning even if it were to breach, the water backed up behind it wouldn’t even overflow out of the river banks.

“For low hazard dams they don’t even have to have an emergency action plan,” says James Martin, Public Information Officer with the Department of Environmental Services, “but kudos to the company for having one anyway.”

Martin says the company attempted to patch a sinkhole upstream of the dam, but water continued to seep out of the riverbed. Dam operators decided to draw down the water to fully investigate the problem.

As a precautionary measure, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the towns of Gorham and Lancaster until 6 pm.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.
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