APRIL 24th, 2008

Celesty and Will presenting their WPI, Major Qualifying Project (MQP) before the Faculty of the WPI Civil Engineering Department. They designed a replacement dam for Anasagunticook Lake in Canton, ME. Celesty graduates from WPI next month!!!Please see the Anasagunticook Lake sidebar or click here: Anasagunticook Lake Dam Replacement-C.Fay & W.Fay <<<<<< click here


APRIL 10th, 2008

Dear Viewers:

Ken Smith became bored and left Swift River Hydro to form his own business. He has called it Smith Alternative Energy Services with a website at www.smithtest.com (also please see Water Wheel Design- Ken Smith and Rack Design-PHI-Ken Smith). Please take a moment to see the crazy design and construction jobs Ken is undertaken. Recently, he has contracted, to a design/ build, of an MTC 50 kilowatt site, to remove a 750 kilowatt generator, to connect an 1850's Tyler, Waterwheel through line shafting to French Burr stones (grist mill), to design a PLC based control system to control the pond level at a 200 KW, three turbine site and some engineering forensic insurance work. If you need some international design work on hydropower projects of all sizes, please contact him at 508-867-6976 or ksmith@smithtest.com .







Removal of dams seen as fish lure

Supporters expect salmon, stripers

By Tim Wacker, Globe Correspondent  |  October 25, 2007 

Recent discussions concerning removal of dams on the Shawsheen River are sparking talk of big fish coming back to this tiny waterway, including prospects of fishing for striped bass and salmon in the heart of Andover.

The Stevens Street and Balmoral dams are 18th- and 19th-century structures, respectively, that have outlived their usefulness, removal proponents say. Together the structures have blockaded various species of migratory fish that would return to the Shawsheen if the dams were removed, according to specialists.

 "We know for a fact that at the mouth of the Shawsheen River there are salmon, American shad, river herring, sea lamprey, American eels, and striped bass," said Caleb Slater, an anadromous fish biologist with the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. "If we can get those herring going back up the Shawsheen, the stripers will follow."

Similar size rivers elsewhere in the state with healthy herring runs have attracted striped bass and other game fish, Slater said, and the same could happen on the Shawsheen if the dams are removed. While final decisions on removing the dams are a long way off, one crucial first step appears headed in that direction: The owners of the Stevens Street dam, the larger of the two, appear inclined to have it pulled.

Atria Marland Place, a national senior services provider, purchased the dam when it bought the former Newton senior housing complex on the Shawsheen, said the company's project manager, Jim Lane. When a survey of the dam Atria ordered indicated removal was the most economical option, Atria decided to take a closer look, Lane said.

 "We're proceeding cautiously here, but there are compelling arguments to do it," he said. "If the striped bass were reintroduced to the river, it could be very exciting. But, we've only had one meeting and we're right now only exploring the concept."

 Atria has plenty of help in that exploration. On Oct. 9 Lane met with Slater and representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Shawsheen River Watershed Association, and American Rivers, a national nonprofit river restoration group.

 Each is weighing the pros and cons behind the proposed dam removals. While some older dams still serve vital purposes - such as flood control and power generation - Slater said the Andover dams are doing little more than costing their owners money. And rather than controlling flooding, he said, the Stevens Street dam is actually flooding some basements abutting the small impoundment upstream behind it.

 "It's getting old and falling apart," he said. "Rather than spend a lot of money to fix it up to just hold a lot of water that's doing nothing, it's better for the environment to remove it."

That is pretty much how the Shawsheen River Watershed Association sees the project. The organization has dedicated 20 years to opening up the river to recreational uses, especially canoeing, which can be difficult around dams, according to the group's executive director, Robert Rauseo.

"My general thought is: Get the dams out and let the fish come in," he said. "Then the canoes can travel all the way from the Ballardvale Dam to the Merrimack River."

 Several questions have to be answered before any decisions are made, Slater, Lane, Rauseo, and others said. Ownership of the Balmoral Dam is still uncertain and must be resolved before investigation of that site can move forward, according to Bill Fay of Swift River Co. in Hamilton, which conducted the Atria survey.

Removal of the Stevens Street Dam is more complex and engineers must be brought in to make sure the buildings abutting the impoundment are not undermined if that structure is removed, Slater said. The Army Corps of Engineers may also have to sign off on dredging permits needed if toxic sediments are built up behind the dam. 

After those questions are answered, the proposals will need public input. The watershed association is attempting to schedule a public discussion at its next monthly meeting at the Tewksbury Library, Rauseo said. 

It appears that the opinions of specialists may be more unified than local sentiment in the push to remove the dams.

Both dams play an integral part in Andover lore and pulling them out would remove a large chapter of local history, according to Elaine Clements, executive director of the Andover Historical Society. Historic preservation has a long history in Andover and lots of local laws governing it, all of which would have to be discussed before the society could offer an opinion, Clements said.

"It may be that one dam is less significant historically than another," she said. "There are a lot of different issues and voices that have to be heard regarding how it will affect the quality of life for the whole town."

There is even some dissent in the ranks of the watershed association. One member, Kevin Talbot of Kingston, N.H., has made a hobby of photographing the wetlands behind the Stevens Street Dam for several years; he fears the landscape and the environment will change for the worse if the dam is pulled.

 "The dam provides an area for the wildlife; they need the water and the flood plain," said Talbot. "There are all sorts of aquatic birds there and lately deer have been coming down. If the dam wasn't there to hold back this impoundment, the wildlife just goes somewhere else."

The wetland would probably shrink and the water would move through a little faster if the dam were removed, Slater said. State studies have also shown that such changes eventually mean some fish leave and others move in.

The cost of the work could range from $40,000 to $400,000, according to Brian Graber, who heads the American Rivers northeast office's dam-removal section. But those costs could be considerably defrayed by government grants if both dams were slated to be removed, Graber said. 

That would open the Shawsheen River and a lot of spawning grounds for migratory fish, from the Ballardvale Dam to the Atlantic Ocean. There may also be funding opportunities for installing a fish ladder to help fish past the Ballardvale Dam farther upstream if the two downstream dams get cleared for removal, Graber said. 

"If you can open the entire river system all the way to the coast, then you are benefiting numerous species," Graber said. "If that's possible, then it makes it much more appealing to grant money providers." 

For Fay, who said he is more often in the business of restoring dams for hydropower purposes than tearing them down for environmental restoration, opening up the Shawsheen would be a welcome change of pace.

 "I'm just really happy to assist in trying to get this thing off the ground," he said. "Can you imagine that, for the first time in 250 years, striped bass could be running up the middle of Andover?"

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.


Transformations - A Journal of People and Change


Completing the record on sustainable energy

I commend you on the timely choice of focus in the Summer 2005 issue on sustainable energy and want to mention another energy source, water power, in which WPI has made contributions for more than a century, and continues to do so today.

George Ira Alden, one of the first five instructors at the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science (now WPI), designed and manufactured the Alden Dynamometer, which was used extensively to measure the power output of hydraulic turbines at the turn of the last century. He was largely responsible for the establishment of WPI’s Alden Hydraulic Laboratory (1893) in Holden, Mass., and directed its operations, assisted by Charles M. Allen, Class of 1894. “C. M.” invented the salt velocity method of measuring penstock water flow rate, which, coupled with the power measurements of Alden’s dynamometer, enabled determination of turbine efficiency. Such measurements were critical to the satisfaction of contractual guarantees provided by manufacturers and to the improvement of performance through research and development. Leslie J. Hooper ’24, who succeeded Allen as director of the laboratory, conducted field trials using the salt velocity method at hydroelectric sites throughout the world. Both “Hoop” and Lawrence C. (Larry) Neale ’40, the next director, utilized model studies to help design and optimize a large number of hydroelectric installations and hydroelectric equipment. Recent work at the laboratory has resulted in the patented invention of a turbine that minimizes injury to aquatic life.

Traveling in New England, it is easy to see that the water power potential available at most old mill sites is unused. While it was once difficult to gain the rights to access sites for water power development and to sell electric power to utilities, it is now possible to do so. William K. Fay ’82 (M.S.) saw that the myriad abandoned mill sites provided opportunity for low-head hydroelectric generation. As a graduate student working at WPI’s Alden Research Laboratory, he conducted research to improve the performance of low-head turbines. He formed the French River Land Company to acquire rights, refurbish and improve generating equipment, and produce hydroelectric power. French River (www.frenchriverland.com) is a family-owned company—Bill’s daughter Celeste N. Fay ’07 serves as president, and his son William D. B. Fay ’09 is vice president. Altogether, Bill has consulted on more than 70 hydroelectric projects. French River itself has rehabilitated 16 hydroelectric sites, including Slater Mill in Pawtucket, R.I., and Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass. They presently operate five sites producing more than 1 megawatt of electric power and are in the process of planning for two more sites with an additional 1 megawatt of capacity.

Capturing the renewable energy supply in streams and rivers will surely become much more important as other energy sources become more costly. WPI can rightly claim both vision and action in developing hydropower today, as it did yesterday.

William W. Durgin
WPI Associate Provost and Vice President for Research



Bill Fay passes on the old hydro technology to his daughter Celeste. 


Old technology isn't just water over the dam

Springfield Republican, Wednesday, December 29, 2004



 It's been "Back to the Future" for William K. Fay and Swift River Co. for more than 25 years.

Were his hair ghost-white, the 50-year-old Palmer resident could leap into the role of Doc Brown in that 1980s film trilogy about time travel - as long as the subject is generating electricity using water power.

With a Wilbraham machine shop that matches Doc Brown's lab for its productive clutter, Swift River can both engineer and produce parts for the rehabilitation of aging hydropower dams that dot the region's mill landscape. "This stuff has been underwater for 75 or 80 years," the quick-speaking company president enthused with the attendant arm thrusts of Christopher Lloyd's movie inventor, "and the problem is, how do you take something out that's just a big lump of rust?"

Why bother? The answer to Fay is as obvious as an electric bill, as intrusive as instability in the Middle East: "We're offering a clean alternative to fossil fuels, and it's there forever."

The "we" includes Fay and his partners bringing their offspring into their niche within the power grid, a company founded in 1981 by economist and alternative energy pioneer Peter B. Clark of Hamilton. Onetime employees and now partners Fay and Ken Smith of North Brookfield have grown children working in this 12-person staff, which operates dams from here to Sebec, Maine.

The company also repairs and maintains dams owned by other New England mill owners and power companies. Besides Clark, the remaining partner is W. Davis Hobbs of the Turners Falls section of Montague .

They are as likely as not to arrive in sweatshirt and jeans to the former Collins Paper mill complex off Cottage Street, where they own a small hydroelectric dam and have carved out an office that looks as lived-in as the machine shop.

From top to bottom, tasks run a gamut. Fay, a spectacled mechanical engineer, had dark, workmanlike crevasses running through his palms, screaming of machine work - first thing on a recent Monday morning. At other times, he's designing some workarounds or dickering with wildlife officials about how to protect fish species living or spawning near dams - a major obstacle to hydropower development.

Ken Smith giving his son Ian and Fay's daughter Celeste and son Will a rigging lesson

On the other end of the organization, 18-year-old Ian Smith (son of Kenneth, partner and general manager) is absorbing carpentry, electrical work and machinist training from shop manager Warren Fay of Springfield, William Fay's brother. The younger Smith, six months out of North Brookfield High School, has plans to learn technology more formally. But he is happy to describe how he helped hoist a 50-foot power shaft from the mill's cellar to recondition a used, 60-foot lathe. (Click to see . "It's a little bit of everything," he said of his work. "It's always something new every day."

Something old as well. Fay said many of the half-dozen company-owned dams date from 1918 and, like the Red Sox, were due to move to more productive levels. The company is working with a Massachusetts Technology Collaborative "green power" grant to upgrade its power production from the company's Pepperell dam to 1.9 megawatts. At 3.5 megawatts, Woronoco dam in Russell is the largest Swift River property, although that is a fraction of a major power plant's capacity. Nationally, hydro accounts for about 10 percent of energy production, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whereas in the 1930s it produced one-third.

But Fay said there are thousands of dams in New England in various states of disrepair. He has been driven like a turbine by this specialty since going to work for Ware River Power Co. in Barre out of college. He pointed to several advantages should a 40-megawatt potential of the Connecticut River dam at Windsor Locks be developed.

"It would stabilize the river (level) and bring back the waterfront in Springfield," Fay said. "God knows Springfield needs some rejuvenation." And with the Yankee Rowe nuclear plant weighing in at 60 megawatts, he added, "you're talking about a nuclear power plant with free flow and no pollution."

The state's Wetlands Protection Act has made new dam construction a virtual impossibility in recent years, so as Swift River looks to the future of hydropower, Fay describes his longtime colleagues and working family members in the same way as the old dams his company works to develop: "We all have links to the past."

Copyright 2004 MassLive.com. All Rights Reserved.




Union-News (Springfield, MA)

Republican, The (Springfield, MA)  June 7, 2005

River drained to permit dam repairs

Edition: Metro West
Section: News
Page: B01

RUSSELL - A two-mile stretch of the Westfield River was drained down to a narrow channel yesterday so the operators of the former Strathmore Paper Co. dam could perform emergency repairs to one of its gates.

Swift River Hydro Operations Co. received permission from state and federal authorities last week to perform the drawdown after the dam's low-level outlet gate malfunctioned.


Temporary cofferdam to divert H2O    Fay drilling new pin hole in gate stem

"As it was, the gate was stuck open and the river was going to drain regardless," Swift River General Manager Kenneth M. Smith said yesterday.

Swift River accelerated that draining process Sunday morning. As of late yesterday afternoon, however, the river had not dropped enough for workers to be able to inspect the gate, even though vast swaths of exposed riverbed could be seen upstream.

The game plan is to repair the gate as quickly as possible and gradually refill the pool created by the dam, Smith said.

"I am hoping that it's something simple like a shear pin that let go," Smith said.

Smith said heavy rains could cause the river to rise and further delay the repair.

Yesterday afternoon Swift River workers used sandbags to obstruct a gap in the original dam in order to further reduce the water flow to the current dam's low-level outlet.

The original dam, built in the 1860s, was compromised in the 1955 flood, and its replacement was built shortly thereafter.

Swift River employees walked the upstream riverbanks searching for fish and mussels marooned by the draining river.

As of yesterday afternoon the riverbank patrols yielded about seven stranded mussels, which were then moved to the water-filled channel, and no stranded fish.

Smith said the riverbed's gentle slope allows fish to reach the river's deeper channels on their own as the water level drops.

William K. Fay, president of Swift River Hydro, said yesterday the gate malfunction! ed during the final phase of a fish study, conducted at the behest of the Federal Regulatory Commission, to determine how well the dam's downstream fish passage is working.

The test, Fay said, entailed tagging 600 salmon smolts with tiny tracking devices. Better than 75 percent of the smolts safely made it through, he said.

"We had great results," Fay said.

This summer Swift River plans to install three American eel passages at the dam, Fay said.

"We'd like people to know we are spending a lot to make it better here," Fay said.

Swift River operates the power dam for its owner, Woronoco Hydro LLC.

A state Department of Environmental Protection official said last week that Swift River has all the necessary state and federal permits to draw down the dam.

William K. Fay, president of Swift River Hydro Inc., yesterday checks on the drawdown of the Westfield River in Russell. The drawdown is needed to complete repairs on a dam gate.

Crews pile sandbags at the ! site of a Westfield River drawdown in Russell yesterday. The sandbags are part of the attempt to slow the flow of water at a dam gate in need of repairs.

Copyright, 2005, The Republican Company, Springfield, MA. All Rights Reserved.



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