Rick Dunne
Executive Director
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

Aaron Budris
Director of Environmental Planning
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

Dam on Kinneytown Property at Risk of Breach

ANSONIA, CT – As part of the Kinneytown Dam Removal Project, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) received an inspection report last week that determined a secondary dam on the property is in poor condition. The report has identified deficiencies at the Coe Pond Dam that, if not addressed, pose an immediate threat to public safety with the potential for loss of human life and property damage.

Kinneytown Dam, currently owned by Kinneytown Hydro Inc., is a federally regulated hydroelectric facility on the Naugatuck River consisting of two dams with non-functioning powerhouses in Seymour and Ansonia, CT. The NVCOG, representing 19 municipalities in west-central Connecticut, has been working with a coalition of partners to acquire and remove the non-operational Dam. Their goal in pursuing this project is to restore the river to its natural course, restore migratory fish passage, eliminate dam safety concerns, reduce up and down-stream flood risk, improve water quality, restore natural sediment flows, and restore access to the Naugatuck River for residents and visitors.

In 2023, NVCOG received a $15 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Restoring Fish Passage through Barrier Removal Funding Opportunity under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund a project to acquire and remove Kinneytown Dam. NVCOG is now working to acquire the Kinneytown Dam facility, through the Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, Inc. (CTBLB), conduct necessary decommissioning, engineering, and design, and ultimately remove the dam. 

As part of the due diligence related to the acquisition of the facility by the CTBLB, it was discovered during field investigation that Coe Pond Dam was in poor condition.  If Coe Pond Dam were to fail, it would threaten the safety of the adjacent Metro North Waterbury Branch commuter rail line.  NVCOG notified relevant agencies of the concern in 2023 and commissioned an independent safety inspection to assess the condition and safety risk of Coe Pond Dam.


An inspection of Coe Pond Dam was conducted by Gomez and Sullivan Engineers and an inspection report was provided to NVCOG on March 6, 2024.  The report details numerous deficiencies in the condition of Coe Pond Dam and explains that any one of them could lead to a breach of the dam at any time.  A breach would inundate and damage the adjacent commuter rail line with the potential for loss of human life and property. The report recommends the water level in Coe Pond be lowered as soon as possible to reduce the risk of dam failure. 

The report states in no uncertain terms that Coe Pond Dam is an imminent public safety threat and calls into doubt its structural integrity. Detailed inspection revealed deficiencies including significant vegetative growth on the dam, beaver activity, erosion and undermining, and evidence of overtopping. Lack of instrumentation to monitor water levels means there is no ability to provide warning ahead of a breach event or notify the railroad and utilities. The report argues that although the dam is currently classified as having significant hazard potential, it should be reassigned as high hazard.

Next Steps

The NVCOG has notified the owner of the dam facility, Kinneytown Hydro Inc., of the need to immediately mitigate this threat to public safety. Because the CTBLB has not yet acquired the property, NVCOG does not have the ability to act on the report’s recommendation of lowering the water level. NVCOG has also notified the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) which has emergency authority to safeguard the public by taking immediate action, as it did with the Fitchville Pond Dam in January.

Furthermore, the findings in this report have delayed the Kinneytown Dam Removal Project, as the entity slated to acquire the property – the Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, Inc. (CTBLB) – is unable to do so unless this public safety threat is first addressed. Removing this threat is critical to the CTBLB’s continuing intent to acquire the Kinneytown Project for the purpose of removing the dam and restoring the Naugatuck River. 

The CTBLB and NVCOG intend to work with the dam owner, DEEP, DOT, FERC and its other agency partners to mitigate this immediate threat to public safety.

The dam safety inspection report is available on the NVCOG website:

Additional Information

Coe Pond Dam is a nearly 3,000-foot earthen dam impounding Coe Pond, part of a canal and reservoir system that once delivered water from above Kinneytown Dam to a powerhouse at the southern end of Coe Pond in Ansonia.  The dam was constructed around 1845.

Kinneytown Dam Removal Project Partners include NVCOG, CTBLB, Save the Sound, the Naugatuck River Revival Group, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP).

Links to additional resources:

NVCOG Interactive Story Map
NVCOG Flickr account for photos/video