Column: NRC will take year to consider Warner’s Pond dam

December 11, 2023

By Ed Nardi 

Following an alternatives analysis completed in 2023 which identified dam removal as the preferred management alternative for the Warner’s Pond system, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) had intended to bring a question on dam removal to Town Meeting 2024. Dam removal has many benefits; however, it would bring substantial changes to the Warner’s Pond system. Whether those changes are positive or negative depends on personal priorities and preferences. Over the last year, some members of the community have expressed concern with the prospect of removing the dam, the changes it would bring, and the speed at which the process was moving. The NRC has heard these concerns and acknowledges that taking an additional year to continue evaluating all the options is the best decision for Concord. The future of Warner’s Pond will still be decided by Town Meeting voters, but not for another year. 

While a decision about the pond is paused, work to find the right solution continues. The NRC is in the process of creating a Warner’s Pond Task Force to consider dam removal alongside other options. The task force will be responsible for becoming familiar with all the alternatives that have already been considered, evaluating each alternative, and providing a recommendation to the NRC in December 2024 that aligns with community criteria identified in the Envision Concord – Bridge to 2030 plan. New ideas on how to manage the pond which haven’t been previously considered may also be explored. The task force will bring together a variety of stakeholders who will solicit feedback from the community and work with a facilitator to engage in a structured decision-making process. The Town’s consultant will continue to advance preliminary designs for dam removal, which would avoid delays if that is found to be an acceptable outcome. Ultimately, the recommendation may be to revisit the dredging alternative, take no action, dam removal or something entirely different.  

A draft task force charge including details on membership can be found on the Natural Resources Division webpage. The NRC first discussed the task force charge at its meeting on November 15 and will continue this discussion on December 6. The charge is expected to be finalized at the December 27 NRC meeting to have the task force active by January 2024. If you are interested in participating in the task force, please review the charge and submit a Volunteer Card for consideration.     

Ed Nardi is chair of the Natural Resources Commission.