The Ongoing Saga of the Norwich Pool
Committee hears a new idea for a swimming hole at the old location.
The dream of a pool at the site of the old Norwich pool lives on despite the rejection of the town’s permit application by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in October, 2015. A town committee charged with collecting public opinion and evaluating alternate sites for a new pool has come full circle and is looking at the original site on Beaver Meadow Road.
On Tuesday, Jeff Goodrich, lifelong Norwich resident and a civil engineer, outlined for the committee his concept for a new pool -- which he believes will past muster with the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR).
Goodrich proposed creating a swimming hole by diverting water from Charles Brown Brook rather than building a new dam—as the town’s previous plan had proposed. A diversion pool is created by diverting water from the brook into a pool using a non-permeable berm at one end and having a means for the water to flow out of the pool and back into the brook at the other. Goodrich says he’s worked on more than 50 diversion pools and, more important, ANR grant permits for them.
“ANR for the last 20 years has said it doesn’t want to do dams for in-stream pools. A dam creates a flood risk and the sediment collecting behind the pool could wash downstream," said Goodrich. “With a diversion pool the stream stays in its current path and there is a diversion to fill a pool located alongside the stream.”
“Can we create a pool beside the stream?” asked Goodrich, speaking about the Norwich location. “In my opinion, yes.”
If Norwich decides to move forward on such a pool, Goodrich advised town officials to let the ANR lead the way.
“The best way is to say to ANR, ‘This is what we’d like, how can we do it?’” said Goodrich. “Let the state agency guide the way.”
Norwich’s original application to build a new dam was submitted to ANR even after there were early signs from the agency the application would be rejected
Goodrich also told the committee that the town may have additional leverage with ANR for approval of a diversion pool. The Norwich Conservation Commission has commissioned a study for the removal of the old reservoir dam upstream from the pool site. Goodrich believes ANR would look favorably on a project that combined removing the old dam, restoration of the original channel and the creation of a diversion pool downstream.
“The restoration process will help make a trade for a stream-side pool as part of restoration of the entire stream corridor,” said Goodrich.
Goodrich believes the permitting for a diversion pool should be a relatively simple process that would take three to six months. The bigger problem is money. Cost of the project is in the neighborhood of $500,000. Next step will be for the committee to present its final report to the selectboard.
Should the new pool eventually be built one thing is certain—the water will be just as cold as the old pool. Goodrich told the committee the ANR will insist that steps be taken to keep the brook from warming.