A media event on Monday, July 25, kick-started the long-awaited reconstruction of Hearns Pond Dam in Seaford, Sussex County, Delaware. Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary David Small was joined by Senior DelDOT Bridge Engineer Barry Benton, Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis, State Representative Daniel Short, DNREC Dam Safety Engineer David Twing, and city residents to discuss the $4.2 million rehabilitation project that will bring the dam into compliance with state regulations. The reconstruction of Hearns Pond Dam is a top priority in the state because of its history of failing during storms, putting the downstream community and infrastructure at risk. It is also the first dam rehabilitation project under the joint DNREC-DelDOT Dam Safety Program.


Hearns Pond Dam was constructed for milling grain in the early 1900s, its spillway and embankment creating the 66-acre Hearns Pond that is now a popular fishing, boating, and recreation area. The nearby Hearns & Rawlins Mill building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and will be stabilized and monitored during the dam’s reconstruction.


“This project has importance beyond rehabilitating an historic dam, mill site and boat ramp. When it is completed, it will be the first dam in Delaware to meet our new regulations,” said Benton. “Perhaps more importantly, this project is the first of many that will be completed as part of a partnership with DNREC to address dams statewide. Many of our lakes and ponds were created by aging structures that need to be preserved.”


The declining Hearns Pond Dam has been seriously damaged over the years by storm events. The dam overtopped in 2001 and again in 2006 due to extreme rainfall, causing significant downstream flooding. McCormick Taylor performed the preliminary engineering and analyses, final design, and community outreach for this important project. The rehabilitation will include the construction of a new, larger spillway and bridge/culvert, and the embankment will be armored with articulated concrete blocks to prevent erosion. The new spillway and bridge are designed to pass the 100-year storm event. McCormick Taylor prepared all permit applications and is performing archaeological monitoring and office support services during construction. McCormick Taylor also developed an Emergency Action Plan and Operations & Maintenance Manual in accordance with DNREC’s Dam Safety Standards.

hearns pond dam construction underway2
Left to right: David Twing, DNREC Dam Safety Engineer; Senior DelDOT Bridge Engineer Barry Benton; DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis; Karin D’Armi-Hunt, Chair of the Hearns Pond Association for its Protection, Preservation, Enhancement and Naturalization; State Rep. Daniel Short; and DNREC Secretary David Small. Photo by DNREC.