PROVIDENCE The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that the Wyoming Upper Reservoir Dam repair project has begun today.
The state-owned, 300-year-old dam impounds the Wood River to form the 35-acre Wyoming Reservoir in the towns of Hopkinton and Richmond. It’s a popular site for both fishing and boating. DEM stocks the reservoir with trout.
Construction work began today with temporary fencing being installed to close the parking lot and limit access to the boat launch. There will be limited access to the launch (cartop boats carried in/out only) and there will be no fishing access. Paddlers may want to consider using the Skunk Hill Road access point to the Wood River for put-in/take-out to avoid the area. The Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association will keep their website updated with information/closures. Signage also is being posted at portage locations upstream along the Wood River to alert paddlers of the changes.
The dam is a high-hazard structure in poor condition, rated with an “unsafe” status in the most recent DEM annual Dam Safety Report. The dam upgrades will include a new low-level outlet and sluiceway gates, repaired embankment walls and spillway, and the removal of vegetation with root systems that pose a threat to the structural integrity of the dam. Construction will entail the installation of a cofferdam, which is a temporary wall positioned along the dam that holds the water back allowing access to the dam for repairs.
DEM is making every effort to minimize the impacts to the public during this project. The drawdown of the reservoir will be slow and controlled (no more than 3 inches per day) and can be stopped if necessary. Drawdown will not occur until the project’s second phase, which is expected in September and October, weather permitting. Work is expected to continue through spring 2022 at which point the site will reopen for fishing, boating, and paddling activities.
Funding for the $2.9 million project is supported by 2018 Green Economy Bond.
For more information and updates on the project visit
Follow DEM on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM, on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), and Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.