TAUNTON (CBS) – Seven years after the potential for flooding forced Taunton residents to flee their homes, the state is making sure the once-raging Mill River is never a threat again.

On Thursday, work crews began the process of removing the Hopewell Mills dam, the first of three dams that will be eliminated in order to open up the river.

The work is a direct result of a near-catastrope in 2005, when the nearby Whittenton dam nearly failed.

“In 2005 the city was evacuated because of an unsafe dam so it’s actually really important for the benefit of both the community adn the environment to take out dams that are no longer needed,” said Alison Bowden of the Nature Conservancy.

Since then, environmental groups, the state, and landowners have come together to re-build the river.

The removal of the dams will likely mean the return of native fish that haven’t been seen in this river for years.

“We hope it will open up about 30 to 35 miles of additional fish habitat for both blue back hering and also for american eel,” said Mary Griffin, state fish and wild life commissioner.

The project should be completed in October. When it’s all done, the river will wind through the town and there will be a nature preserve for people to enjoy.


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