CASCO — This summer’s drought is a blessing in disguise for the upcoming replacement of the Pleasant Lake Dam, according to an engineer from Engineering Assistance & Design Inc. in Yarmouth.

Ross A. Cudlitz said the low water would make the job “easier and quicker,” He and Myron Pertrovsky, design engineer of MBP Consulting of Portland, will oversee the project for dam owners Otisfield and Casco. 

Work is expected to begin Thursday or Friday, Richard Wentworth of T-Buck Construction of Auburn said Monday afternoon.

In 2014, Casco and Otisfield selectmen received a report from the Maine Emergency Management Agency about leakage and structural deterioration at the spillway dam. The towns face significant fines from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection if the dam fails. Town officials, along with members of the Pleasant Lake and Parker Pond associations, have been meeting since then to develop a strategy to repair or replace the dam.

In June, selectmen in Casco and Otisfield approved a $421,639 bid by T-Buck Construction to replace the dam on Route 121 behind Hancock Lumber offices in Casco. Voters in Otisfield and Casco then each approved the $250,000 as their town’s share of the joint project.

Although a bypass pipe will be installed to handle water flow issues during construction, Cudlitz said it appears the project will be done during a period of low water.

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The water behind the dam is well below the boards that are typically placed in a dam to hold back water. There was no water flowing over and down the dam on Monday, Sept. 26.

The board received a permit to go ahead from the Department of Environmental Protection a little more than a week ago. The delay in receiving the permit also delayed the start of the project because the contractor had already begun two other jobs, local officials said.

The DEP administers statutory authority over non-hydropower dams through Natural Resource Protection laws that allow or exempt certain construction or repair activities and by establishing water levels and downstream flows through a petition process.

Before the dam work begins, erosion control will be in place with sandbags and a series of pipes.

Travis Saucier of T-Buck Construction said at a meeting earlier this year with the two towns and lake association representatives that the company will construct multiple outlets to maintain the elevation of Pleasant Lake as workers begin their work.

Bypass pipes will be installed while the demolition of the old dam takes place and the new dam is installed.

The excavation part of the project is to cut it down in front of the dam so the old dam can be removed and the new one built. It will be excavated a few feet to the bedrock to put in forms.

It is hoped the project will be completed by November.

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