Thursday, November 22, 2007

What's for Dinner?

During dinner, he looked out the window toward the lake and said, "We could have had goose!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey for a Manchaug Pond Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

While turkey maybe on the menu in most parts of the US, here on Manchaug Pond they are the guests! Do you see them?! In area 3, a flock of over 20 frequently visits a number of homes along Manchaug and Torrey Roads. As you are driving, watch for them and our female deer and her three young ones born this spring.

Preserving open space is another reason to form a watershed district. As property comes up for sale, conservation grants are available to secure this land to maintain wildlife corridors and protect endangered species common to our watershed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sutton Conservation Commission to Hold Mtg on Docks

The Sutton Conservation Commission is holding another meeting to discuss lakes and ponds on Wednesday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the Sutton Town Hall.

Dock regulations have been the topic of recent board discussions. Public attendence at those meetings has been by non-lake residents as well as residents from ponds with and without public access. In September of this year, Sutton Conservation Commission enacted "non-dock regulations on 300 ft. abutters notification, 2 1/2" tree replacement (less if due to poor access) for trees felled in the jurisdiction greater than 5", and the requirement to use 20-0-10 (or comparable), zero-phosphate, slow-release fertilizer w/in 200' of any waterbody, wetlands or stream."

As in the past, the MPA will continue to take a strong role in educating Manchaug Pond lake abutters, watershed friends of Manchaug Pond, and others as to current state and local regulations and concrete ways to minimize and eliminate negative impacts to the lake. New docks have not been an big issue on Manchaug Pond as we have had just a couple new docks in the past few years with the sale of a couple old homes/summer cottage - the state Dep and local Sutton permit notices are posted in the local newspaper for Sutton, the "Millbury-Sutton Chronicle", if you are interested in tracking! MPA is into educating and letting the officials do the policing/enforcing. We have seen existing docks around the lake receive regular maintenance to ensure homeowner and public safety. This author's own shared/neighborhood dock received new eye bolts and replacement boards after ice damage this past spring. So the old, abandoned dock issue thing doesn't exist here either.

MPA's current Non-point Source Pollution Improvement Project will go far in bringing the latest information on Best Management Practices and Low Impact Development to property owners in and around our towns' lakes. Stay tuned!

(Check out the links on the right - Conservation Commission - that site has town bylaws concerning ponds by town. Suttons big bylaw is listed.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

How Perfect is That Autumn Sky!

Autumn on Manchaug Pond seen in tonight's night sky!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Clean up a Great Success!

On this beautiful sun filled fall day, Manchaug Pond and the roadsides around the lake saw numerous volunteers participate in the annual cleanup.

Here's a shot of the total haul! Thanks to the Mark Brigham, Highway Superintendent for the Town of Sutton for providing the town truck!

The trash came by scouts! ...

The trash came by boat! ...

and the trash came by pick-up trucks, trailer, and wheelbarrow! ...

as volunteers reported a lot of dumping and litter at the boat ramp, Blueberry Island, the Sutton Conservation Commission land, and roadsides around the lake.

Volunteers also included Cub Scout Pack 143 from Sutton: the Webelos and Bear Den scouts, their leaders, and families. Thank you for joining us!

Great Job Everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Will you join us! ..... Manchaug Pond Fall Cleanup

The Manchaug Pond Fall Cleanup has been scheduled for Sunday, October 28, 2007 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.

The shoreline and coves which especially accumulate litter will be targeted first as well as the boat ramp. If time, energy and volunteers permit we can do some roadsides such as Manchaug, Torrey, Holt and the dam area down Parker Road, Sutton.

The Boat Ramp on Torrey Road will serve as a meeting point for volunteers as well as the drop off point for all trash collected. As in past years, area reps and other volunteers can collect the rubbish by boat and bring to the ramp. We will also have a pickup truck available to shuttle from the roadsides or shoreline. Please provide the items you will need for the day, such as gloves, waders, whatever. Garbage bags will be available at the ramp and the Town of Sutton is providing the truck to haul away the trash collected.

Weather permitting, the educational display will be set up providing participants with educational material on septic system maintenance, healthy lawns, etc. as part of our outreach with the s. 319 grant project.

Special thanks to our 1st Vice President for organizing the event and coordinating with the town of Sutton.

See you there!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Everything in the Known Universe about Manchaug Pond Association!"

Well, the MPA blog has been found and rated by the blogging world. How did we measure up? My opinion is ... We did good! We made the list! They found us! That is an accomplishment in itself! Out of today's 107.9 million blogs, the MPA ranked 3,915,745! I know that is not in the top 10, or top 100 or the top 1,000 even but we are ahead of about 104 million other blogs! I'm impressed. :))

AND to add to that success (He! He!) we were also check out and given a "vote of approval" by:

"Water Words That Work
Authority: 33
Rank: 189,691
A multimedia blog to help nature protection and pollution control experts make a splash when speaking or writing for the general public."

Soo..check out the TECHNORATI site to see for yourself! :)

"Welcome to Technorati

Currently tracking 107.9 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what's happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who's saying what. Right now."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Migrating Monarchs Visit Manchaug Pond

Saturday afternoon before that microburst hit Manchaug Pond, in the beautiful warmth and sunshine at least 30 monarch butterflies stopped in their yearly migration to drink the nector of four plants in my and my neighbor's perennial flower garden. Sedum Autumn Joy is the plant that drew them to our neighborhood. To see the large orange and black beauties slowly flutter at eye level to land in clutters on the flowers was exciting.

Check out the following links to view beautiful photos, to learn more about Monarch Butterflies as well as the citizens' tagging program to monitor the migration:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Press Release Announces Grant Award

The following press release and two photos taken by the MPA 1st Vice President is starting to be picked up by local newspapers. The September 20th issue of the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle published the grant announcement with the view of Manchaug Pond from Waters Farm photo. The press release was written largely by the environmental engineer at CEI and edited by the MPA President, 1st Vice President/Grant Coordinator and Corresponding Secretary and reviewed by the MPA Board of Directors...


Contact: David Schmidt, President Manchaug Pond Association (508) 476-7804
Eileen Pannetier, President Comprehensive Environmental Inc. 603-424-8444 x301

Local Watershed Group Awarded $130,000 State Grant for Pond Improvements

Douglas/Sutton, MA – September 15, 2007 – Over 40 years ago, 35 families with a common interest to protect a pond banned together to form the Manchaug Pond Association (MPA). Forty years later, the group now boasts a membership of over 100 member families along with several businesses and a nonprofit group. With an 18 member volunteer Board of Directors, the group celebrates their 40th anniversary with energy, optimism and an impressive grant awarded to them by the MA Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

A picturesque area, the 360acre Manchaug Pond lies within Douglas and Sutton and has been slowly degrading over the past few decades. Likely a result of increased development pressures and various nonpoint source pollution inputs, residents have seen a rise in algal blooms and invasive aquatic plants and a decrease in water quality. The MPA lead by Mr. David Schmidt, President and Ms. Marty Jo Henry Vice-President, worked with Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. (CEI), a Milford based engineering and science firm to develop conceptual designs and a successful grant application for funds to help improve the water quality of the pond.

The MassDEP s.319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant will provide the MPA with almost $130,000 in funds to be spent on stormwater improvements utilizing Low Impact Development (LID) techniques within the watershed and citizen education on issues such as septic system maintenance and other residential LID techniques such as landscaping with buffer zones and rain gardens to limit runoff of fertilizer nutrients and animal wastes. The grant also includes storm drain management improvements that will be implemented by the towns. The group will provide a 40% grant match with volunteer hours as well as in-kind staff hours to be provided by the Towns of Sutton and Douglas. CEI is currently developing engineering designs for construction with work expected to begin this summer for completion sometime in 2008.

The MPA is a non-profit organization made up of volunteer property owners within the Manchaug Pond Watershed whose mission is “to promote the welfare and correct use of Manchaug Pond and the contiguous area.” Online at

CEI is a local employee-owned civil and environmental engineering and science firm serving the New England area with a focus on comprehensive stormwater, wastewater, water supply engineering, planning and design. Online at

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Directions to Singing Dam

Shi Chian has left a new comment on your post "Dams in the News: A Sutton Dam No One Wants!":


Would you happen to have directions to get to the singing dam from Worcester, MA? Or if you have the address of the approximate location of this dam? Thank you.

Hello Shi Chian! Thanks for visiting! Singing dam is located in the village of Wilkinsonville in the Town of Sutton. The straightest route from Worcester would be to take Rte. 146 south. At the intersection at Boston Road (Tony's Pizza is on the right!), take a left onto Boston Road and follow to the stop sign. Take a left on to Rte 122A heading toward Millbury. On 122A after you go under a railroad bridge, take a right on to Blackstone Street and Singing Dam and the future park and canoe launch to the Blackstone River is just up the street! Enjoy and glad to be off service!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Microburst Hits Manchaug Pond

A microburst hit Manchaug Pond early Sunday morning leaving a wake of destruction. Hitting at 3:30 a.m., the eight minute storm brought high wind, heavy rain, thunder, lightening and hail. Residents in areas 2, 3 and 4 were hard especially hit, waking up to lawns and driveways littered with branches and leaves, ripped off roof shingles and ridge vents, upturned and broken lawn furniture, overturned and sunken small boats and jetskis, a few twisted or submerged docks not to mention over a dozen large trees uprooted and laying on scenic Manchaug Road and Torrey Road.

This severe, quick hitting storm - Force 10 at least on the Beaufort (wind speed) Scale - had to have had wind speeds of at least 60 miles/hour to cause this damage.

The sound of chain saws and leaf blowers continues to fill the air!

More info on Microbursts:

To check out the Beaufort Scale (wind speed):

A site on weather for the kids:

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Links for Boating Laws and Online Course

A weekend in early August, the Environmental Police boat hit the waters of Manchaug Pond for a little "educating!"

Recently we received the following comment and update from Kathy at

"Thank you for providing links on your blog to the official Massachusetts boating safety handbook and online course. Could the Corresponding Secretary please update the links so that they land on the appropriate pages?

Boat Massachusetts Boating Laws Handbook:

Boat Massachusetts Online Course:

Many thanks, and safe boating!"

Don't wait until the police boat is talking to you to find out it is against the law to pull a skier or tube behind a jetski! Get the facts and know the law before you hop on!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sutton Public Hearing on DOCK REGS - Last Night!

Sorry to report this after the fact but I didn't know about the Hearing
until it was too late! I guess I need to subscribe to the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle to get the Public Hearing announcements.

The Sutton Conservation Commission held a public hearing last night as part
of their agenda to accept comments on new, more stringent changes they
are proposing to current state dock regulations. The hearing began at
8:00 p.m. with 45 people attending in the room and more flowing into the hall.
Discussion was lively and pointed with those speaking identifying themselves
from Lake Singletary. The outcome seemed to be that the Conservation Commission wants people to voluntarily come to them - they do not want to be strict enforcers. It was decided that the public hearing was continued to November 7th with time to be posted in the Town Hall, and an October 10th workshop of a small group (not identified at this time) would be held to discuss this informally was scheduled to work on the language. The next Conservation Commission would discuss proposed regulations on
trees,abutter notification and fertilizer use.

Co-chairman Mark Briggs carried the hearing with the following changes presented as a handout:

"Sutton Conservation Commission Policy on New Docks

Docks must be located 25 feet from property lines or for properties less than 50 feet wide in a central location.

Docks may be no further than 30 feet into the water measured from the high water mark.

Docks may be no larger than 300 sq. feet.

All applications must be accompanied by a complete plan to scale.

Permits for Docks:
For a new Temporary or removable dock:

Applicant must file a Request for Determination with the Conservation
Commission even if there is no bank disturbance or a Notice of Intent
if the bank area is disturbed. A permit is not required to remove
Temporary Docks in and out of the water.
For a Permanent Dock or Permanent Bank Alteration:

Applicant must file with the Conservation Commission and must file a
Chapter 91 Waterways License Application with the State. Permanent
structures are subject to MGL Ch. 131 Section 40. Bank disturbance may not exceed the lesser of 5 % of frontage or 25 feet.

All docks must have permanent reflectors on each corner.

A Chapter 91 Waterways license is required for all anchored in-water, off shore floating, swimming docks or pontoon structures.

There may not be more than one dock per parcel.

This policy shall not serve to diminish the requirements of MGL or 310 CMR
9.00 but may be applied more stringently as reserved herein. the
Commission may grant certain variance(s) with cause or hardship to this
Regulation. This policy shall not apply to existing or an/or licensed
docks before October 1, 2007. For any substantial repair with major
alteration. A Request for Determination or Notice of Intent shall be
filed with the Commission.

For further information, contact Mark Briggs at 508-865-8728, leave message.

At the next meeting of the Commission, they will propose the following changes to regulations as described in their handout:
Cutting---All trees 5 inches or greater which are felled or are or to
be cut in any jurisdictional area be replaced in kind with planting(s)
of 2 1/2 inch stock or greater.

Abutter Notification---All Applicants must notify any/all abutters within 300 feet of Any property corner or line when filling any application required under MGL.

application of fertilizer on any lawn, landscaping, garden, orchard,
Filed or within 100 feet of any resource area or 200 feet any body of
water be 15-0-5 zero phosphate, slow release.

The MPA Board of Directors will review and keep you posted! The MPA
has presented the dock regulations to the membership in the past and
had full discussion/education at past Annual Meetings and in the

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Douglas Selectman SUPPORT Creation of District!!

YES! 5-0! Unanimous! It was like winning the World Series!
Manchaug Pond Nation!
A year and a half of research, meetings, setbacks, more meetings, more facts, more meetings and finally the vote...

Last night the Town of Douglas Board of Selectman voted unanimously to support "the creation of a watershed district for Manchaug Pond!"

The MPA was allowed to present all our information: the numbers, the support, the reasons and benefits, existing precedents of existing districts preserving "Great Ponds", and our intent and direction. A good number of people from around the pond - Douglas and Sutton alike - were allowed to speak from the heart about their love of the lake and desire to protect this "gem" of a resource.

Douglas Selectman would like us to continue our work with Sutton before the exact language of the Act is reviewed. As the District Clerk of Cedar Meadows Lake Watershed District advised us early on: "Educate, educate, educate!"

Our work continues....
This is the link to view the Selectman's meeting on your home computer... See for
yourself! Watch the August 21st meeting and wait for the posting of last night's Sept. 4th meeting. They did have video problems and the Selectman who is also vice-chair of the cable committee had to improvise. But it is all worth listening to!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tuesday, Sept 4th, DouglasTown Hall 7:00 p.m

ONE MORE MEETING - See you there!

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 4th at 7:00 p.m. the MPA will go before the Board of Selectman in Douglas asking for their support of our effort to form a watershed district for Manchaug Pond.

The Douglas Board recently voted to support the formation of a watershed district for Whitin Reservoir and now is considering the same legislation for Manchaug Pond.

We expected a ruling at their last meeting but.... the vote was delayed until tomorrow night to review what a Sutton resident handed to the Board in opposition. (Check out the August 22nd post.) Also of concern to all is that the Sutton Board of Selectman did not want to participate in the District and would not even consider the new changes made at the request of Douglas legal counsel to limit eminent domain powers and secure a voting seat for the Town. Douglas Selectman voiced concern as to how the district would function without Sutton's participation seeing a need for two willing participants with lake property owners.

While the relocation of the Guilford mill and the pending sale of the dam are definitely what got us doing our homework, the dam and waterlevel by far are NOT the only reason a district is right and good for the future of Manchaug Pond. There are Great Ponds protected by watershed districts; there are districts for lakes in two towns; there are districts protecting more than one pond; there are districts protecting Great Ponds smaller than ours and larger; districts who focus on water quality, weed control, waterlevel, protecting habitats and watershed... and all in Massachusetts. We propose nothing new, nothing that hasn't been done before - only a tried and true method of protecting a beautiful water resource. A method recommended to us by the Congress of Lake and Ponds Associations.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ugh! Did I See PURPLE Near Manchaug Pond?!

Last weekend, driving on Manchaug Road at the edge of Areas 1 and 2, I thought I saw PURPLE on the side of the road farthest from the lake. See it in this photo - look close as it is tiny and almost finished flowering!

My fear was/is Purple loosestrife! A perennial which is flowering now and common along moist roadsides, and small ponds and lake edges. Within a few years an entire pond can become a sea of PURPLE! No exaggeration on my part either! Just think of the fish hatchery ponds on West Sutton Road in Sutton. Clearly smaller than Manchaug, but we don't need our coves loaded with this!

Anyway, I pulled both plants and figured better to be safe and properly identify it later!

Here's the official word on the HIGHLY INVASIVE weed Loosestrife (and there are a number of different species some showy, some not):

"Purple loosestrife is a wetland plant from Europe and Asia. It was introduced into the east coast of North America in the 1880s. First spreading along roads, canals, and drainage ditches, then later distributed as an ornamental, this exotic plant is in 40 states and all Canadian border provinces.

Purple loosestrife invades marshes and lakeshores, replacing cattails and other wetland plants. The plant can form dense, impenetrable stands which are unsuitable as cover, food, or nesting sites for a wide range of native wetland animals including ducks, geese, rails, bitterns, muskrats, frogs, toads, and turtles. Many rare and endangered wetland plants and animals are also at risk.

Adult height: 2 to 7 feet.

Purple loosestrife thrives on disturbed, moist soils, often invading after some type of construction activity. Eradicating an established stand is difficult because of an enormous number of seeds in the soil. One adult plant can disperse 2 million seeds annually. The plant is able to resprout from roots and broken stems that fall to the ground or into the water.

A major reason for purple loosestrife's expansion is a lack of effective predators in North America. Several European insects that only attack purple loosestrife are being tested as a possible long-term biological control of purple loosestrife in North America.

Clean boats, clean waters...

If you are a water recreationalist — boater, angler, water-skier, scuba-diver, sailor, or canoeist — there are some important things you can do to prevent the transport of harmful exotic species from one lake or river to another. In some states and provinces it is illegal to transport harmful exotic species.

* Inspect your boat, trailer, and boating equipment (anchors, centerboards, rollers, axles) and remove any plants and animals that are visible before leaving any waterbody.
* Drain water from the motor, livewell, blige, and transom wells while on land before leaving any waterbody.
* Empty your bait bucket on land before leaving the waterbody. Never release live bait into a waterbody, or release aquatic animals from one waterbody into another.
* Wash and dry your boat, tackle, downriggers, trailer, and other boating equipment to kill harmful species that were not visible at the boat launch. This can be done on your way home or once you have returned home. Some aquatic nuisance species can survive more than 2 weeks out of the water, so it is important to:
o rinse your boat and equipment that normally get wet with HOT (at least 40°C or 104°F) tap water; or
o spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water; or
o dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days, before transporting to another waterbody.
* Learn what these organisms look like (at least those you can see). If you suspect a new infestation of an exotic plant or animal, report it to your natural resource agency.
* Consult your natural resource agency for recommendations and permits before you try to control or eradicate an exotic "pest." Remember, exotic "pest" species thrive on disturbance. Do-it-yourself control treatments often make matters worse and can harm native species."

SO if you see PURPLE in Manchaug's watershed - STOP the car, PULL the plant and DISPOSE of it. Do not composted it! Let us each be diligent to keep Manchaug Pond loosestrife free!

Click the title/link for more info!

Labor Day Weekend! Get the Flares Ready!

Just a reminder to purchase your flares to light up the shores of Manchaug Pond! 8:00 p.m. Sunday night! Flares can be purchased at the local compground stores in Area 1 and 4 or from your local Area Representative. Flares are sold at cost: $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00.

When did this tradition start in our 40 year history? Anyone know for sure?

Perhaps we should light the flares both Saturday and Sunday in celebration of the MPA 40 years of service to Manchaug Pond!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"...were planned well.... Officials work to protect the watersheds"

Those were headlines in yesterday's Telegram & Gazette. Not about Manchaug Pond....

...about the watersheds of Quabbin, Ware River, Wachusett Reservoir and Sudbury Reservoir. Credited is "the foresight of engineers at the turn of the century and those who have worked tirelessly since to protect the reservoirs and the rivers and streams that feed them, providing natural filtration - the watershed." Forsight. Watershed.

Yes, they are protecting a water supply which Manchaug is not. But did you know that Manchaug Pond is fed by runoff from the watershed - not springs. Remember when Lycott Environmental conducted our weed survey and gave us that fact at an MPA Annual Meeting. And more recently Lycott did testing up in the watershed... High bacteria counts in one very unpopulated cove... numbers coming from the watershed. That is why we have an educational component to the NonPoint Source Pollution Project - so people in the watershed can learn how to do things, around their lawn and landscape and in the care for their animals, with Manchaug Pond in mind.

The property owners around the lake and in the watershed need to continue working to educate neighbors, and town officials as to the importance preserving Manchaug Pond. MPA efforts to form a watershed district would only strengthen current effort. It would give us the tools we currently don't have in administering the grant and in seeking new funding sources. Our DEP NPS pollution grant addresses only 7 (5 in Sutton, 2 in Douglas) of 27 sites which bring unsafe runoff directly into the lake and directly promote weed growth and poor water quality. All 27 sites need to be addressed. We need to have foresight now and address all pollution around Manchaug Pond.

This week I received an email from the chairman of the prudential committee of a lake district working to preserve a 300+ acrea "Great Pond" in another part of Massachusetts. His story sounded similar to ours... that local conservation districts and environmental groups, the towns and the state were not interested in getting involved with the lake... "when the water rights and dam were own by a paper company that was closing it's doors. The proprietors around the pond decided to form a district." That was in 1994. And yes, the dam seems to be the issue which gets our attention, gets us all thinking, studying, and acting for the benefit of the lake. The water level remains a big issue for us. Our dam is still up for sale with future ownership a question. It was announced at the last Douglas selectman's meeting that Guilford stated they are going to "minimize their liability".

A lake district would definitely put the people around the lake in a position to take control of their own destiny - whether it be issues with the level of the water, the quality of the water, or the protection of the wildlife habitats and the watershed which feeds the pond. A lake district is a good move. A strong move. It takes the political boundaries and town personalities out of Manchaug Pond and puts the lake first. It gives the people of the lake a voice they don't have with town government; it gives the people of the lake 21st century tools to act and be protected. It puts us in a good position.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Municipal Districts Common in Massachusetts

The Manchaug Pond Association continues the work begun last August of educating town officials as to the beauty of Manchaug Pond, the benefits of forming a municipal district, and the need to position the lake community so it can act promptly and effectively in the future.

Municipal districts within cities and towns are common in Massachusetts. Water districts such as the ones in the Sutton villages of Wilkinsonville and Manchaug are simple, easy to understand examples. Sewer districts, fire districts, even school districts, there are also community improvement districts which look to the maintenance of roads, historic preservation and then those that manage a lake,pond or river. The watershed/lake districts look to the issues that are important to nearly all waterways - quality of the water, invasive aquatic weeds and their control, and water level and impoundment issues.

How do districts come about? Well, there is a ground swell of support from the local user group/property owners with a minimum of 80% needed. The support here on Manchaug Pond was and remains over 80%. The citizens bring their request to the town and then in turn to the state legislature for review, input and approval. Once approved, the district management committee will receive training from the government. The first meeting of the district, the property owners will vote to form the district and elect their clerk, treasurer and representatives and approve a budget, etc.

Why are districts desireable? Well, they get things done! They have a special interest in the area inwhich they live, know the issues and develop partnerships with individuals, businesses and government which would otherwise not happen. Their neighborhood is important to them. In this time where cities and towns wrestle with tight budgets and prop 2 1/2, these districts handle their own budgets with no economic costs to the town. They think creatively to secure funds throught the partnerships and grants available to municipalities.

A win-win situation!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Deer Me! Let me give you this thought!

As you drive Torrey Road in Area 3 be ready to brake for deer! Yesterday evening this deer was enjoying a few apples. One foggy morning last week at about 7 a.m., my daughter saw a doe with 3 fawns cross Irma Jones Road. They are common around the lake and in the watershed. And I should probably add - a little too used to us all.

Lyme Disease is also prevelant in this area and I'll talk about that in a later post but...'s a thought the MPA Board and membership hasn't discussed....
Last week our MPA President has found grant opportunities open just to municipalities/municipal districts - thousands of $$ awarded to conservation: to preserve greenways and open space to allow for wildlife corridors, to protect special habitats, and to reduce development in watersheds. We did have a property owner from Douglas offer land in the watershed to the MPA for preservation. The MPA is not in the position to do that so I suggested he try groups such as the Trustees of Reservations and the Metacomet Land Trust or another Conservation group. But.... a watershed district could be given the mission and the tools needed to maintain some of the forested lands in our watershed. Also available to municipals and landowners are grants to maintain our forested resources responsibly and economically- so that landowners are not force to sell to developers. On Manchaug Road, our Sutton planner was instrumental a few years ago in working with new landowners to develop retreat lots on larger parcels to allow for the building of their new home and yet protect large tracks of land in the watershed. Let's at least be open to look at the possibilities and the options!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Our cause was righteous, our intent was good"

Turn on the local community cable station as soon as you can- specifically the Douglas Board of Selectman. This is why I write today - to talk of leadership, committment, vision, integrity and courage. Those are the qualities I would like to see in our elected officials. Here's the link if you want to view it on your computer.

Sunday, as my daughter watched her new episode of Star Trek from the "Captain's Collection", I heard Captain Sisko say "our cause was righteous, our intent was good..." Certainly that was the case with the Manchaug Pond Association. What better cause then the preservation of Manchuag Pond. Our intent to do the best thing, employ the best tools - modern, 21 century methods of protecting the lake through the formation of a watershed district at no cost to the town. Our methods: communication within the lake community, communication with the current dam owner, communication with government, looking to the experts for advice and direction, starting a list of users so that all could share the costs. A platform based on truth, vision for the future, and with all users involved.

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Our lake is beautiful. In our meetings with the towns' Board of Selectman, the dam is always the main focus. What of the high bacteria counts we are seeing from the watershed? what of the other 20 sites/problem areas identified as sources of non point source pollution not addressed by the grant? What of our problems with the grant process because we are a non profit? what of our lake level drawdown method of weed control? what of our August secchi disc reading which shows a major decline in water clarity/transparency in one year alone? What about Manchaug Pond?

"Leaders manage change. Managers control process." ~ Anon

The Douglas Board of Selectman voted whole heartily a few weeks ago to fully support the formation of a watershed district for Whitin Reservoir. They hired legal counsel to review the legislation, made requests for a voting seat and more limits to the eminent domain powers. Attorney Walter Jabs and the people of Whitin's complied. The Manchaug Pond Association did the same thing.

Last night before many supporters and two opposed, we asked the Douglas Board of Selectman for their support. We heard two selectman hem and haw that they could not support a district for Manchaug Pond because of Sutton - the selectman's vote not to be involved! What power that Board of elected officials has! Two Douglas voters strongly reminded selectman they were elect represent Douglas, not Sutton's position and that they needed to act in the best interest for Manchaug Pond! What of democracy? In both towns, an overwhelming number of voters called for selectman to support our right to assemble and vote on a watershed district.

In two weeks, Douglas will meet again to make their final decision. Give Douglas a call.. they did the right thing for the people of Whitin Reservoir, ask them to do the right thing for the people of Manchaug Pond. Ask them to be leaders. Michael Guzinski, Executive Administrator. 508-476-4000 x 101. or email

"Managers think about today. Leaders think about tomorrow." ~ Dan McCreary

Let the user's champion Manchaug's cause. Let the people who know her best, who have her as a backyard be her caretaker. Empower them with the tools they need to do the job.

"Sometimes we must do more than our best, we must do what is required." Winston Churchill.

Let democracy be the order of the day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More on Districts

A Sutton Selectman expressed difficulty understanding the operation of a district within a city or town. Attorney Jabs clarified they were municipal entities (not municipalities) like sewer and water districts. And it seems the district concept has been a great way to get specific tasks accomplished by specific user groups. Check out this headline from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2006: TAPPING LOCAL SPIRIT: COMMUNITY GROUPS CAN'T FIX THE PROBLEM? IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS MAY BE THE SOLUTION.

We've looked at Minnesota and the fact that they have been doing the watershed district idea since 1955, let's take a look at Missouri as reported in this article: In 1998, Missouri passed the Community Improvement District (CID) Act allowing property owners "to set aside money - gthered from a special tax- to make specific neighborhood improvements," reports the magazine. The District is run by the people who live in the community and can pay for everything "from landscaping, security, recreation and historic preservation."

"What makes these districts unique is the self-taxing mechanism," says Lorlene Hoyt, assistant professor of technology and pplanning at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, who heads up the school's international Business Improvement Development Project. Another Sutton Selectman saw a watershed district as possibly "competing" with the town for future tax dollars. The MPA reported we had the support of our members, both young and old, because they realize the importance of protecting this beautiful lake. Missouri homeowner Barbara Ellis further explains, "People don't mind the tax when they know the money is going back into the community."

In Dallas, Texas, the article reports a developer went banckrupted and the "city counldn't maintain the land. Homeowners stepped in, gathered the state mandated 50 percent approval from fellow property owneres, and created the Improvement District." The District revitalized the neighborhood of 3,000 homes completing the empty and half-completed lots left by the developer, and also works with local police to increase patrols in the community. The benefits and the versitility and mission of each district go on and on!

Why do the residents around Manchaug Pond want to form a watershed district? Well the list is growing all the time! Check in tomorrow for more details :))

Friday, August 10, 2007

Annual Meeting & Picnic 2007

Saturday, August 18th is the date of this year's MPA Annual Meeting and Picnic. Where your voice is heard and your opinion and friendship is valued! :)

The business portion of the meeting will begin at 10:30 with agenda items to include the Manchaug Pond NonPoint Source Improvement Project and the Manchaug Pond Watershed District initiative.

The picnic will begin as usual at noon or there abouts. You'll notice a change in the menu this year. (Actually I was slightly shocked when the Board voted to deviate from the traditional. It wasn't unanimous but a very good majority made the decision.) In true picnic style we will enjoy grinders and pizza from Harry's as well as our traditional Helen's Bakery brownies which a few of us just couldn't go without! Hot coffee and cold soda will also be served. Why the change? Well, our head chef and Picnic Director Maureen from Area 3 recently moved away from the lake, and our new location does not have running water for clean up purposes. Cost remains the same at $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Embroidered MPA baseball hats and visors will be on sale. Yes, visors! (at the request of our treasurer :)) A 50/50 raffle will add to the excitement.

The meeting will be held in a new location this year. Yes, another change! King's Campground will host us at the Pavilion. Why the change? Well, our older members have complained about the rugged terrain at our traditional site of Camp Blanchard. King's will provide a clean site, on the lake, easy to find, with plenty of parking. Attendant's will be on hand to assist and direct you, most may park in the lot across from the store.

See you there! Don't forget!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Town of Sutton Votes Down Democracy on Manchaug Pond!

"They didn't vote for the people or the lake!" exclaimed a new MPA member.
"We're asking them for our democratic right and they think their voting on owning a dam!" lamented a Sutton resident.

Tonight SUTTON Selectmen voted 4 to 1 DENYING Manchaug Pond residents their democratic right to formally assemble and vote on the proposed watershed district.
The Selectmen's vote is an effort to block the formation of a separate deliniation of the town whose mission would be the protection of the beautiful water resource of Manchaug Pond.

In a vote difficult to fathom and before a jam-packed room of Manchaug Pond supporters which overflowed into the hallway, the Board gave a laundry list of far-reaching reasons and unsupported fears for their inability to support the lake residents.

After denying the MPA an opportunity to answer the specific questions raised by each Selectman, the Chairman gave the MPA President Dave Schmidt, Attorney Walter Jabs, and Corresponding Secretary Phyllis Charpentier six minutes to outline changes made specifically for the town and to tell of the initiative's importance to the lake's water quality and preservation. The dozens and dozens of lake supporters/property owners were kept silent, told they should have spoken during the Public Forum and not during the formal slot on the agenda alloted for the MPA. An individual broke the silence asking for a show of hands demonstrating the overwhelming support for the MPA and the proposed district. Five individuals were counted as not raising their hand.

August of 2006, the MPA had began a year long effort to inform and educate the Town as to the issues and concerns before Manchaug Pond, to gain their support and involvement in a watershed district. Specifically, the concern that 27 problem areas around the lake had been identified as contributing high levels of bacteria and other nonpoint source pollution with the grant only addressing 7, the district would open doors and monies currently out of reach for the non profit association. The district would also address liability concerns and position the group to address possible future issues such as the waterlevel and the dam with methods of the 21st century.

In an attempt to open a door for the MPA, Chairman Kevin Geraghty made a motion to consider the MPA's proposal in light of the changes made in the act to address the Board's concerns but it did not have the votes to go anywhere. Selectman did comment that the uncommonly large turn out for their meeting demonstrated there was interest in the issue. But not one Selectman stated his recognition of the beautiful waters of Manchaug Pond and its contribution to the community, of his committment to the citizens, the businesses on the lake, or the environment, or of his desire to work with us for its future well-being.

Ironically, Manchaug Pond Association followed Waters Farm on the agenda, with MPA receiving the NO vote for the effort to further preserve and protect the lake after the Town gave the Farm a formal proclamation of congratulations for 250 years of history. As you know, Waters Farm was donated years ago to the town by former MPA board member and secretary Dorothea Waters Moran and the farm lies on the lake providing the "scenic views" so loved by farm visitors.

Very sad... it is easier to oppose something then try to understand it and work in partnership. As a lifelong Sutton resident, I would have loved to see my town shine as a champion for the lake.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Work Progresses on Watershed District

The MPA continues to work on the framework of the watershed district addressing specific concerns raised by members and in meetings before the Boards of Selectman in the towns of Douglas and Sutton. Specifically, the eminent domain powers, which all municipalities have, have been further narrowed. Also at the request of the Douglas Board, the management committee of the District will be expanded from 3 to 5 members with the town having a voting seat.

I believe the Minnesota Association of Watershed District sums it up well when it states "Because water does not follow political boundaries, it makes sense to manage natural resouces on a watershed basis." The "land of 10,000 lakes" (really over 11,000), Minnesota's legislature authorized watershed districts in 1955. Today, the Association of Watershed Districts reports over 46 watershed district in Minnesota. They "are local units of government that work to solve and prevent water-related problems. The boundaries of the disticts follow those of a natural watershed, and the districts are usually named after that watershed... This type of management allows for an overall, holistic approach to resource conservation... Water mamagement on a watershed basis is important for uniform and effective controls, not only to correct problems but to prevent them."

Massachusetts only boasts 3,000 lakes and a handful of watershed districts, but it has been done here and the MPA wants to position ourselves ready and acting to ensure that Manchaug Pond receives the best protection for the future!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

New Feature on the Blog... The Poll!

A new feature is now available from Blogger - THE POLL! Yes, if you look to the right you will notice we can poll our readers on any given topic! What do you think? Care to participate?! Care to suggest a topic or category for a future poll? Be the first to take the poll!

If you rather just lurk, than sit back, relax and enjoy last night's sunset! :))

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Yo! Is this the Boat Ramp?!

No, and you can't get there from here! :)

Saturday's hot weather brought the usually high number of visitors to Manchaug Pond via the State Public Access Boat Ramp. And like the one pictured above there are always a few each weekend who wander down the wrong road in search of water.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Hampshire and Vermont Report New Invasive Algae in Rivers!

Disgusting! Like something out of an old horror movie! Devastating! Check out this invasive algae which attacks rivers and streams. I don't know how or if lakes can be effected.
(Thanks to the MPA Board member who passed this along to me!)

"The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has issued an alert that the invasive algae “Didymosphenia geminate” also known as “rock snot” or “didymo” has been found along the northern reaches of the Connecticut River as well as in the White River near Bethel, Vermont. A local fishing guide discovered the invasive alga which was later confirmed by the Vermont Natural Resources Agency. This is the first positive identification of the algae in the northeastern region of the United States.

Because of its extremely invasive nature and the close proximity of the findings to New Hampshire, it is imperative that scientists and experts from across the region address the threat of further spreading of the algae into other waterways. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this alga is the only freshwater diatom to exhibit large scale invasive behavior. It impacts infested water bodies significantly with the ability to alter food web structure as well as the hydraulics of streams and rivers.

In other rivers that have been invaded by “didymo”, there have been accounts of large blooms forming thick mats of cottony material on stream and river bottoms. The mats can suffocate aquatic plants and obliterate fish habitat. Dense mats of didymo can harm populations of aquatic insects which form an important source of food for fishes including trout.

“The devastation to the habitat of our New Hampshire streams and rivers by Didymo may be as destructive as exotic milfoil is to our lakes and ponds,” said Jody Connor DES Limnology Center Director. “New Hampshire Biologists are extremely concerned and taking the threat of the spread of Didymo to our rivers and streams very seriously.”

There is currently no way to control or eliminate didymo which is why the prevention of further spread of the algae is imperative. According to Steve Couture DES Rivers Coordinator, “this invasive diatom could have potentially significant ecological impacts to New Hampshire’s invaluable riverine resources.” DES wants to stress that the following precautions must be adhered to by all recreationalists, such as anglers and paddlers, to help stop the spread of Didymo to other steams and rivers:

* Check: Before leaving a river or stream, remove all visible clumps of algae and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the site. If you find any later, don't wash them down drains. Put all material in the trash.

* Clean: Soak and scrub all items for at least one minute in hot water (140 degrees F), or use a 2 percent bleach solution or a 5 percent solution of salt, antiseptic hand cleaner or dishwashing detergent.

* Dry: If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to the touch, wait an additional 48 hours before letting it contact any other waterway."

The photos are courtesy of New Zealand. For more information on what you can do to prevent, or to track its spread/arrest, check out these sites.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Selectman Vote to Support Watershed District!

Congratulations to the Whitin Reservoir Association and the Douglas Board of Selectman for working together to craft legislation to protect both the reservoir and the interests of the town's people. The Board voted unanimously in favor of the formation of a watershed district! (4-0-1 as a newly elected selectman abstained from the vote.)

Last night legal counsel for both the town and the association further reviewed and "tweeked" the language of the document making it acceptable to both groups. Considered was expanding the town's involvement to a voting seat on the district's management committee, expanding the management committee from 3 to 5 members, further limiting the eminent domain powers to just the dam, and adding language to ensure the flow to the town's wastewater treatment plant if the association were to ever have ownership of the dam.

Over 25 member of the association were present to hear the Selectman's vote of support and broke out into applause as selectman thanked the group for their efforts and spoke of the satisfaction with the compromise.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fireworks on Manchaug Pond!

Sunday night held some good booms and left many cheering in the channel but
Monday night was a red, white and blue sensation!

and The Grand Finale!

While many homeowners have and do hire professionals to launch their fireworks shows...

The Office of the Fire Marshall reminds us that, "It is illegal for private
citizens to use, possess or sell fireworks in Massachusetts, or to
purchase them illegally elsewhere and transport them into the state."

Also our further disclaimer... the state requires a permit to formally sponsor or organize a boat parade. That is why here on Manchaug
Pond, it just happens! Don't forget to pick up your flares at a
campground store or from an Area Rep. to set the shoreline aglow. Maybe we can do it a couple nights since the 4th falls during the week :)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Begin the weekend in silence!

Last night's Manchaug Pond...

This morning I noticed... the silence.

6:45 a.m. Besides a few songbirds chirping, there was silence - no boats, no jetskis, no music, no talking, and no roosters crowing in the distance.

7:05 a.m. The same... silence.

7:10 a.m. One bass boat roaring out of the channel from the Public Boat Ramp. One boat. Just one!

Why the silence? On the boat front, there are no fishing tournaments listed for this weekend and next! Two weeksends of sleeping late if you like or two weeksends of early morning peace :) Click the title of this post to link to the state ramp schedule to see for yourself.

If you are new to Manchaug Pond and the MPA, the State Public Access Boat Ramp used to open before 6:00 a.m. with the count and the roar of the bass boats occuring minutes later. It was at an MPA Annual Meeting inwhich our members asked John Hebert, then the Sutton Police Chief if the time could be delayed a bit. With a definite "yes" and a siting of current laws on allowable noise and reasonable times, immediate action was taken. Our thanks to Mr. Hebert who has since retired from the Police Dept, but continues to serve the community as a recently elected member of the Sutton Board of Selectman.
I should note that prior to the MPA's strong support and request for the Town management of the State Boat ramp, there was no gate or gatekeeper to monitor use of the ramp. User came round the clock, and once the parking spaces were filled, parked along the roadsides and on neighboring lawns. The gate is now closed when the ramp is full, and at 10:00 p.m. seven days a week and opened in the morning thanks to the dedication of our town gatekeeper.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Reading the Newspaper

In the News...

Today- Woman injured by a vehicle near Parker Road and Manchaug Road yesterday morning - Well that explains what all the sirens were about.

Yesterday-Mass Environmental Police announce increase in patrols on selected lakes across the state after recent jetski accidents.
Remember when operating a jetski that you must wear a life jacket, cannot operate between sunset and sunrise, cannot operate within 150 feet of a beach, cannot tow anything, and cannot operate if under 16 years old.

- In N.H. a woman pinned down a fox and held it there for 10 minutes waiting for police after it bit her daughter. Glad it wasn't our foxes from Manchaug Pond!.. You know I haven't seen a fox this year in Area 3. Wonder were the little ones who sat on my porch last year went to live.

Thursday - Two black bears eating at a bird feeder on a deck at a home on Coes Pond in Worester. Wasn't it just a few years ago a black bear was spotted here on Manchaug Pond in Area 5 eating seeds from a bird feeder! Take those feeders in early in the season!

- In Douglas, an article titled "Decision on watershed district near" hits home! Selectman in Douglas have been hard at work with legal counsel and the lake associations to craft a document they can fully support which would create a municipal district for Whitin Reservoir. Douglas consulted their legal counsel, having him review the document and make recommendations which they felt would protect both the interests of the town and the towns people. The lake associations' attorney incorporated the changes into the document addressing the board's concern over the flow into the Mumford River for the wastewater treatment plant downstream, as well as concerns over the powers of eminent domain and that the town appointed member of the district have voting rights. Progress!

I wonder what will be in the Sunday paper! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Haybale Maze?

My husband came home a few weeks ago with "You've got to see this!" Neither the property owner building the new summer cottage, my husband nor I had heard of this...
an access for critters mandated by the Conservation Commission!

It is a break in the fence which allows wildlife to come up from the lake yet still prevents erosion into the lake during construction. Wouldn't you know that beside this duck, a snapping turtle was found last week on the construction site! Each year a female snapper comes up from the lake at this house or the one next to it, crosses the road and heads up the neighbor's lawn to find a spot in the shrub bed to lay its eggs.

Incredible isn't it! And to think we could be living in a 3 decker in Worcester missing all this! :)

Enjoy the lake! Today was the longest day of the year I'm told.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yesterday's Evening Cruise

A beautiful evening to kayak around the lake.
This mother and daughter from Douglas access the lake from our State Boat Ramp for a trip around the lake after supper.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Water Transparency and the Secchi Disk Test

This is a photo taken from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency NOT our MPA volunteer actually performing the annual Secchi test on Manchaug Pond.

I've been "visiting" the land of 10,000 lakes on the web as they seem to be very committed to water quality as well as experienced in taking action! For instance, through legislation Minnesota has used watershed districts since 1955 to protect their many lakes. One source reported 49 watershed districts, another 249! They have the statutes and regulations all layed out as to how the district functions, its purpose and powers. They even have a professional association for the watershed districts! Anyway lets get back to the Secchi test!

What is a Secchi? Well, every MPA Annual Meeting, our gentlemen experienced Secchi volunteer gives a quick overview and a report. He has been doing it for years! Thanks Don! (Oh sorry, I'm not suppose to use names, but couldn't resist!) Minnesota reports: "Secchi transparency (clarity) is a quick and easy measurement of lake's water quality. Secchi transparency provides an indirect measure of the amount of suspended material in the water; which in many Minnesota lakes - is the amount of algae in the water." Here in swallow Manchaug Pond we not only see algae but also sediment and organic material (decomposing pine needles, leaves, etc) brought in by erosion and runoff from the watershed.

The Secchi disk is one small monitoring device we have been using for many years on Manchaug Pond. Our efforts with the Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant project and the watershed district are actions we are and can take to keep our lake healthy. This positively impacts down stream as well- Steven's Pond, the Mumford River, the Blackstone...

Click the title of this post to take you to a site which shows the Secchi disk in action. "Watch the slide show that follows the change in Secchi transparency for Minnesota lakes from four different classifications of lake water quality." Note that as the water warms, algae growth increases causing water clarity to decrease.

Click on to the title of this post to take you to the Secchi slideshow! And stay tuned for more information :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lake Views from the Board Meeting

A recent Board meeting held on the Douglas shore provided these views for those attending. What a peaceful cove!

Also, we are in need of an area representative from Area 3 to serve on the Board of Directors. The husband and wife team who served this area recently sold their home on the lake. If you are interested in taking a more active role, learning more of the details effecting our lake and the association and could spare a Thursday evening now and then let me know!


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