Concern over fish that spawn in the river has been growing in recent years. In the 1970s, some 38,000 river herring passed up the river to spawning grounds; in recent years, the numbers have dwindled to fewer than 1,000.
But a dwindling fish population is not the only concern associated with the aging dam. The impact of a dam failure would be felt at all downstream locations, which include some residential areas and the Parker River waterfront around the Route 1A bridge.
Last April the old Larkin-Morrill Building adjacent to the dam was razed because it had become an attractive nuisance susceptible to teen partying and vandalism.