October 17. 2013 2:23PM

Officials watching Gorham dam for possible failure

GORHAM — Officials said they have implemented an emergency action plan as a precaution once owners of the Gorham Dam on the Androscoggin River said they have been unable to repair structural problem with the dam.

The owner has opened floodgates to reduce the level of the impoundment behind the dam, said Jim Martin, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

He stressed the dam is a low-hazard dam and it would have no impact on downstream lives or property if it were to fail.

"There is no dam failure, there is no actual breach, and it is a low-hazard dam," Martin said.

A couple of weeks ago, the owner — Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP — detected a small sinkhole near the dam and tried to patch it, Martin said. Today, a diver inspecting the patch determined that it did not work properly, so the company began a drawdown of the impoundment, he said.

They also initiated the emergency action plan, which called for notification of state officials.