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news releases

July 23, 2013

Contact: Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
                Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
                Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

Raritan Borough Project is Funded Through Natural Resource Damage Settlement

(13/P77) TRENTON — Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today the start of the removal of a third dam from the Raritan River in Somerset County that will further open a 10-mile stretch of the middle and upper portions of the river to fish spawning and migration and also allow more recreational opportunities.

Removal of the Nevius Street Dam in Raritan Borough is the third and final dam elimination project on the Raritan River over the past three years that is financed by a landmark natural resource damages settlement secured by the DEP in 2010 with El Paso Corporation, which is now Kinder Morgan. This restoration project is being implemented as compensation to the public for harm to natural resources caused by past pollution at a refinery that was operated by or affiliated with El Paso.

In addition to the dam removals, the DEP received nearly $160,000 from Kinder Morgan for herring research on the Delaware River as part of the settlement. 

“This is another example of the Christie Administration’s commitment to improved water quality and enhanced recreational opportunities in our state,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “This project makes excellent use of pollution settlement dollars to provide a major environmental improvement on the Raritan River. Also, residents and sportsmen in the region will enjoy the recreational benefits of this dam removal for generations to come.’’ 

“The significant ecological benefits of removing this dam are consistent with the efforts of Duke Farms to be a model of stewardship, and we are delighted to see the progress which has been made to enhance the Raritan as the true queen of New Jersey rivers,’’ added Michael Catania, Executive Director of Duke Farms, which owns the dam.

The Nevius Street Dam is being removed over the next two weeks as part of a watershed-wide effort to re-establish historically significant migratory fish passage, restore riverine habitat and the natural flow of the Raritan River, and enhance recreational uses. 

Its elimination will add to habitat improvements realized from removal of the Calco Dam in Bridgewater in 2011 and the Robert Street Dam in Bridgewater and Hillsborough townships in 2012. Removal of the Nevius Street Dam should be completed within two weeks by Kinder Morgan’s contractor, River Logic, said Kinder Morgan project manager John Jengo.

Meanwhile, the DEP’s Office of Natural Resource Restoration continues to study additional dams in the Raritan River watershed and will evaluate and implement appropriate options for future enhanced fish passage and recreational opportunities.

The Nevius Street Dam is located just south of the Borough of Raritan at river mile 27.0 in Somerset County. It was constructed in 1901 by James Buchanan (Buck) Duke, the tobacco and hydropower industrialist, for aesthetic and recreational purposes as part of his development of Duke Farms, a 2,740-acre estate in Hillsborough Township.

The dam is constructed of mortared stone block over a concrete core, with a stair-step design on its downstream side. The dam length is approximately 195 feet.

A water intake structure was installed in the early 1960s on the north end of the dam and Duke Farms began utilizing this intake system for its primary water supply when their pumping withdrawals from the Raritan Water Power Canal were discontinued in the 1970s.

All three dam removals will open up 10 miles of migratory fish habitat along a stretch of the Raritan that twists through a highly diverse residential, commercial and agricultural portion of Somerset County that includes Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Bound Brook, Somerville and Manville. It also will open up about 17 miles of tributaries, including the Millstone River, to spawning. None of the dams were built for flood control:

  • Calco Dam, demolished in 2011, was located at river mile 20.9 and built by the Calco Chemical Co. in 1938 to disperse chemicals from its facility.
  • The Robert Street Dam, a 6 ½-foot-high sheet piling and concrete dam had been located at river mile 27.9 and was originally constructed prior to 1930 for purposes that are not known today.
  • The Nevius Street Dam, located at river mile 27.0, was constructed of rocks and mortar in 1901 for aesthetic purposes and later retrofitted to provide water to Duke Estate ponds. 

Fish to benefit most from the removal of the dams are American shad, American eel, herring, and striped bass, which once migrated in prodigious numbers through the gravelly shallows of the Upper Raritan. Better water flow also will improve flushing of sediments, reduce nutrient loadings and improve conditions for tiny aquatic organisms that are critical to the food web in the river system.

"Somerset County is delighted to see this initiative of the Christie Administration and the DEP provide such tangible improvements to the Raritan River to help improve the quality of life for the citizens of Somerset County,” said Somerset County Freeholder Director Peter Palmer.

“The removal of the Nevius Street Dam will complement the borough's plans to make the Raritan River more accessible to our residents and a focal point for our own recreational and redevelopment efforts, added Raritan Mayor  Jo-Ann Liptak.

The voluntary settlement with El Paso – now Kinder Morgan -- resolved Natural Resource Damage claims made by the DEP against the Houston-based company that stemmed from contamination at EPEC Polymers Inc. in Flemington, Hunterdon County; Nuodex Inc. in Woodbridge, Middlesex County; EPEC Polymers Inc. in Burlington City, Burlington County; and the Eagle Point Refinery in West Deptford, Gloucester County. Investigations and/or cleanups are under way at those sites.

The DEP uses funds secured from Natural Resource Damage settlements toward ecological restoration projects, typically in the same watershed or general area where resource damages occur.

For a copy of the settlement agreement, visit:

For more information on the DEP's Office of Natural Resource Restoration, visit:

MEDIA NOTE: Dam removal work was delayed today due to heavy rains. Work is expected to start Wednesday morning and continue for about two weeks. It can be easily viewed and photographed from the Nevius Street pedestrian bridge.




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Last Updated: July 23, 2013