caption, page 1:
Pistons inside the Cargill Dam mechanical building failed and allowed the water to drain out. There was no water flowing over the dam or the natural falls, pictured, and mudflats dotted the river Nov. 20. More photos on page 6. Linda Lemmon photo.
Caption, page 6:
Above: No water going over the Cargill Dam Nov. 20. Left: crews put in some of the infrastructure for the hydroelectric project.
By Linda Lemmon
Town Crier Editor
PUTNAM --- Failed pistons turned the Quinebaug River into mudflats Nov. 20 and inspired "spirited" discussions about the planned hydroelectric turbine project in the Historic Cargill Falls Mill.  
Putnam Green Power had intended to do a flow test that would show what the level of the water going over Cargill dam and the nearby natural falls would look like. 
Town Administrator Douglas M. Cutler said that Tim Sheldon, developer for the mill project, had said last week that there might be certain times of the year that there would be no water going over the falls.  This did not match with what developers had told selectmen and the federal government seven or eight years ago. The town issued a cease and desist order for the dam portion of the project.
The flow test on Nov. 20 was meant to show what the diversion of 30 cubic feet per second would look like at the dam and the falls. Instead the pistons failed, the metal gate dropped and there was no water coming over the dam or the falls and mudflats dotted the upstream area.
"They were trying to lower the level and the pistons failed and dropped completely and drained it," Cutler said.
Flow tests are part of the permitting process and Putnam Green Power must show what 30, 60 and 150 cubic feet per second looks like. Selectmen had been assured years ago that there would always be water flowing over Cargill Dam and Cargill Falls. 
At a meeting next to the dam mechanical building at the dam Nov. 20 Cutler asked Alfred Nash, engineer for Renewable Power Consulting, "Where is the disconnect? In 2008 we were assured of the esthetic values, the process, so we had no problem. Now there's a possibility of no water over the falls?" Peter Benoit echoed the same question, "What can you do to preserve the esthetic?". Nash said he was not on the project in the beginning and would work on the problem. He noted "We have a lot of people we have to please." 
Greg Renshaw, of Putnam Green Power, told selectmen they are aware that traditionally there is low flow in September, October and November so the turbines would not be able to run.
Putnam Green Power has a building permit to work on the power plant's infrastructure, including the pipes under Rt. 44 that run between the dam and the mill building.  Also being installed at the natural falls, close to the shore near Rotary Park, is a "notch" to allow river eels to come and go. However, Cutler said, the group still needs its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license. 
Cutler said the town is waiting for the town counsel to determine how to proceed. The flow test will be rescheduled for mid-December and Cutler said parameters would need to be in place for that to be done. He believed that the parameters might include having a member of the town's Public Works Department in the dam's mechanical building.
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