Conservation District: Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District
Project Name: Smith Mills: Silver Creek Reservoir Dam Removal and Rehabilitation
Project Description: Due to dam safety requirements, the Village of Silver Creek was tasked with decommissioning its old reservoir dam.
The only option for the small municipality was the cheapest solution: to notch the dam and meet dam safety criteria. This, however, would have not benefited the natural community of Silver Creek. The District came on board with the project and presented a conceptual alternative that incorporated engineered rock riffles to stabilize the grade and sediment that has accumulated behind the dam. The dam itself would be reduced and the stream corridor would be restored to provide natural flows and movement patterns for wildlife.
In 2020, the dam was reduced and limestone rock rip-rap was placed and pinned to the shale. Cooperation with US Fish and Wildlife ensured the rock riffle incorporated low flow passages suitable for spawning steelhead. This location is the breaking point between the upper and lower Silver Creek watersheds. The lower watershed is predominantly shale streambed, while the upper watershed has more gravel streambeds, suitable for steelhead spawning.
Please be advised that fishing at this location is strictly prohibited.
This project was spearheaded by Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, who secured local (Chautauqua County 2% Bed Tax Program), state (NYS DEC Water Quality Improvement Project) and federal (US Fish & Wildlife Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) funding to construct the project. Construction oversight was provided by the District. In-kind support was also provided by the Village of Silver Creek and Town of Hanover.