Saturday, March 31, 2007

Eagle Spotted in Area 7

Just received a call that the eagle was sighted twice this afternoon in Area 7. I sure would love a photo if someone can get the camera out fast enough!

Check my past post on eagles for the link to the eagle cam to see adults nesting, laying their eggs, hatching and raising their young.

Keep your head up!

Spring Blooms, Snow Melt and Higher Water

Spring is here! The ice and snow are history and my daughter looking forward to her first swim! Here the snowdrops are blooming in the yard once again having made their first appearance in January.

With a good snow cover in the watershed and the lake covered in ice, the high temperature and strong winds caused a tremendous melt which brought the lake up quick. I haven't heard how much the lake went up but the gate had been opened 12" and then closed down to 8" and then this week to 6". This retain more of the melt and bringing us closer to the level Interface considers as "full". What usually isn't in the equation this time of the year is the ice. This month the lake was totally covered with ice! Damage looks to have hit only a few docks and the channel markers. The markers are bent back toward the south as the ice flow was thick and strong. The camera battery is charging so I'll get you a photo later.

A nearby dock took on a wacky Z shape as the ice flow pressed on. It was amazing as the front legs of the dock was only in a couple inches of water before the wind started breaking up the ice and never was damaged in past years. Splintering the front sectionin half and pushing the legs down, it is a sight. A dock across the lake has the crooked leg syndrome, otherwise I haven't heard of any other damage. The rock of the channel blocked the ice flow preventing damage in the area beyond and then most of the coves offered protection.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wind + Ice = Damage

Let me tell you, check your dock and anything else you may have in or a few feet away from the lake! If you don't live on the lake, it is worth taking a ride down. My neighbor was kind enough to give us a heads up! The flag is out straight as the wind is incredible! It is blowing across the lake toward the channel and has broken up the ice and sent it crashing into the shore bringing anything in its path with it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Morning Photos and the Nonpoint Source Pollution Grant Project

Today my kitchen window thermometer has reached a high of 71 degrees. And yes, it is in the sun. :) Here's a few photos taken this morning.

Also, I am pleased to report that the Manchaug Pond Association Proposal for the s.319 Nonpoint Source Competitive Grants Program for the "Manchaug Pond NPS Improvement Project" is a go! Our start up meeting with the project managers - CEI's civil engineer (he made the presentation at the MPA annual meeting 2 years ago) and environmental engineer - has been scheduled for April. The paperwork process is complete: forms submitted, letters for affirmative action and to establish the MPA as a vendor have been sent, project scope and sequence approved, and the contracts signed. Total cost of the project is $219,370 with the U.S. EPA funding 58.9% with $129,250 and the MPA and towns of Douglas and Sutton matching with 41.1% with $90,120 worth of services. Specifically the EPA pays for the engineers, the designs of the bioretention and leaching catch basins, vegetated swales, and plunge pools construction materials, educational material, and supplies. The matching contribution is the use of the towns highway department's construction equipment and the salaries of the highway super, foreman, operator and staff and the volunteer time of MPA.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eagles Go Home to Nest

A lake neighbor shared her story of watching the eagles this winter as they perched on this tree in front of her home. An adult and immature eagles where regularly seen over a few months this winter.

If you missed the eagles on Manchaug Pond or would like to see more, check out these websites! The first has great photos of both adults and young, perched and in flight. The second and third site are eagle cams - a movie camera pointed at the eagles' nest which will take you through the nesting, egg laying and hatching and the raising of the young eaglets.

To watch eagles nesting in Massachusetts, check out this site.

Or in Washington State, this site.

Explore those sites for links, movies, eagle sounds and more. And check in daily!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Readership Skyrockets! Membership Increases!

MPA is on the right course. The readership for the blog has skyrocketed! And MPA membership continues to increase! This demonstrates the 40 year old association knows the concerns of the lake and the people who use it and is proactively moving forward.

Our blog counter shows the numbers for this month already significantly higher than totals for February. We're talking daily numbers from 11 to 45 times higher than the numbers from the beginning of last month! The counter keeps track of new and returning visitors as well as their view of different pages as well as specific days and subject searches! For instance someone did a search looking for info on "Manchaug Indians", another on the District. As for the numbers, clearly the day after the Sutton Selectman's meeting at the Senior Center stands out and builds more from there. I guess press is good - even if you are missquoted, portrayed as the bad guy, or are billed as having a single issue.

and the MPA mailbox was smiling with checks when I checked it Friday - unsolicited donations and new and old members renewing their committment for 2007. This was an unexpected surprise to me as the treasurer and I had not sent out dues requests yet - people used the membership form in the newsletter. That mail brought us a couple new members on the Sutton side and a substantial donation from an associate member, also from Sutton. A few Douglas members, 40 plus years on the lake, also voiced their support with a check. A dear senior member also sent her check in a lovely card with a lighthouse.

The MPA President reminds me we must actively work to protect and enhance the quality of Manchaug Pond. The job of the 20 MPA elected officers and area representatives is to feel the concerns of the entire membership, bring it to the board meetings, do the research and present the experts with the facts and experience who can enable all of us to make the right decisions. He further states we have to follow the mandate of the majority of the people: we have received 2 unanimous votes at crowded meetings of over 100 attending, a third meeting held in December had only two individuals (one in the proposed district boundary, one not) who spoke against.

Base your continued support on facts and on the welfare of Manchaug Pond. This is not a Sutton issue or a Douglas issue, it is a Manchaug Pond issue.

We asked for the Towns' blessings before we proceed, to inform them and to have their recognition that this is important enough for lawful consideration. We urge the Board of Selectman to see the benefits to the quality of Manchaug Pond, the benefits to the shoreline property owners and deeded waterrights, and the benefit to the many users through the Public Boat Ramp, campgrounds, Waters Farm, YMCA camp and community who enjoy both the view and the waters.

The first meeting of the District will hold a FORMAL VOTE to continue or dissolve. Staff will attend training for municipal districts. The District will follow municipal rules mandated by the Act passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, and District Bylaws for quorum, membership, and ensure that every property owner in the District receives notifion and has an opportunity to vote either in person or by proxy, and that only ONE vote per household be allowed. Others living in the watershed, campers, tenants and adult children, cousins, siblings will not have a vote but will be encouraged to participate as a "Friend of Manchaug Pond."

Let's do it right. Based on fact not fiction and fear.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Basic Town Services Give Life Lines

Thursday I thanked the Sutton Fire Department for the safety ladders by the dam, thinking of a boy who had fallen through the ice near Swenson's Island many years ago and not realizing that Thursday night the Douglas Police and ambulance service would assist one of our youngest lake residents.

Deepest appreciation to the Douglas Police Department and ambulance service for their quick response to the call and for finding their way through those dark and winding remote roads in record time. I am told a number of cruisers responded, blocking traffic to allow passage of the ambulance.

Also worthy of our gratitude is the Douglas Highway Department for the plowing and sanding of these private ways and for the decision makers who realize that safety of all our citizens uppermost - even during a budget crunch.

Here's the quote for the day: "Sometimes we must do more than our best, we must do what is required." Winston Churchall

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lake Still Thawing

March 22nd and we still have a lot of ice and snow covering the lake. They'll be no swimming in March this year! Funny how some years the lake is frozen in November, others not at all, and this year we didn't see ice until January.

Thanks to the Sutton Fire Department for the safety equipment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Snow Melt to Bring up Waterlevel

For our property owners in other states, let me tell you it is 57 degrees, sunshine, blue skies and no wind. Beautiful day! Fuddy the caretaker of the dam was happy with this snow cover as he explains that this will melt and give us water to fill the lake for the spring level. Fuddy thinks we are in good shape. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Caretaker Opens Gate

This photo was emailed in and titled "Waiting for Spring!"

The Interface Dam Caretaker opened the gate agood 12 inches to take care of this snowstorm and the tremendous amount of runoff expected.

Our lawyer did say that with all the "what if" of the future, the ONE THING WE CAN BE CERTAIN OF IS THAT GUILFORD IS GOING AWAY!

I knew he was right, but I never thought I would hear that news yesterday.

Those opposed to the District say that the state regulates the water level for Manchaug and that no dam owner could drain it down. Maybe to an extreme, but every year I see it different. Reality is that there is about a 9 foot spread. NINE FEET! up or down, whatever is seen fit and still within the state range!

Our Dam Caretaker is a wonder! He does a tremendous job! Thank God the caretaker is dedicated, and concerned about keeping us happy and will spend the time needed to fine tune the lake level on a daily basis. Thank God over the years Guilford was concerned about the residents on Manchaug Pond. NO state official tells Interface to open the dam, the caretaker watches the Weather Channel, sees a storm coming up the coast or whereever and opens the gate days ahead. The state does require the flow for the sewerage treatment plant at the mill and for the town of Douglas which is maintained but most times the reports show the flow is THREE TIMES what is required by the state.

How about flooding? MY neighbors first floor has been flooded when the lake was high a few years back. My sister-in-laws whole septic system, yard for that matter has been under water in the spring. Property damage, pollution...

How about our weed control -no cost, no chemical, lake-level drawdown? We accomplished that by developing our relationship with the dam owner and the caretaker over the years to fine tune when he takes the water down in the fall, how much and when he brings it up late winter.

Thursday's Selectman meeting I noticed that the great majority of those who spoke against the Districtlive high and dry on Manchaug Rd, Torry Rd, or in the watershed not even on the lake or with waterrights and most didn't have a dock in the water, nevermind a boat or have been seen swimming in recent years.

My husband's 28 ft pontoon boat is on mud right now. We wait for Fuddy to bring up the waterlevel in the spring to "put" our boat in the water. Then when the water is up, we watch that it doesn't get too high as we have had many springs were the part of the dock is under water. A good lake wind and high water can put that boat on the dock! Try to move a 28 ft boat on a windy day! Or see how much fun that boat is in a dry spring or when the open gate keeps us dry or low.

Whining? No, just facts. Just honest, realistic concern. If you support the District or are concerned about the future of our dam, and the waterlevel, speak to the Sutton Board of Selectman at their meeting tomorrow at 7 at the town hall or any first or third Tuesday or call the Town Administrator and talk about it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is St. Patrick's day and here's a bit of Irish blessings for you. If any of our members of Irish ancestry wishes to submit a few more words of wisdom - please do! And

yes I know... I have already been asked what this has to do with Manchaug Pond as first it was the Native Peoples and then it was the Swedish who settled most of the shores of Manchaug Pond not the Irish! Well, today's Manchaug Pond is a blend of many nationalities, backgrounds and experience. And St. Patrick wasn't Irish either!

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

View of Manchaug Pond from Area 8, Summer 2006

Wishing you always...
Walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain
And tea beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire.

Stairs leading to a home in Area 7

May neighbours respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

Fall asters on the earth embankment, Manchaug Pond Dam 2006

Bless those minding cattle,
And those minding sheep,
And those fishing the sea
While the rest of us sleep.

Water's Farm Days 2006

And remember, Murphy was an Irishman:

Murphy's Law
Nothing is as easy as it looks.
Everything takes longer than you expect.
And if anything can go wrong,
It will, at the worst possible moment.Area 1, 2 fall 2006

And one for Saint Patrick whose feast day it is:

Legend of Saint Patrick
Good St. Patrick travelled far, to teach God's Holy Word
And when he came to Erin's sod, a wondrous thing occurred
He plucked a shamrock from the earth and held it in His hand
To symbolise the Trinity that all might understand
The first leaf for the Father
And the second for the Son
The third leaf for the Holy Spirit
All three of them in one.

Manchaug Pond 2006

If God sends you down a stony path,
may he give you strong shoes.

View of Manchaug Pond from ramp at Public Boat Ramp 2006

May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.

Some Neighbors of Area 5 & 6

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at you back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rain fall saft upon your fields.
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Public Boat Ramp, fall 2006

Have a restful day!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sutton Selectman's Meeting Last Night

Click the title of this blog entry to read what the Telegram reporter got out of last night's meeting.

After hearing Sutton Selectmen last night, one, or I should say two, things stay uppermost in my mind:

1. we need a district to give ALL PROPERTY OWNERS a voice!
whether you love or hate the MPA, whether you're a Douglas or a Sutton resident, whether you're a registered voter or not, whether you're a business or individual, whether you have been on the lake 106 years or 1 year, whether you formed the association or never heard of it, whether you swim or otherwise use the lake you live on or not. A District would give you the vote by ballot or proxy and the facts- you'd decide. Whether you want a Dam or not. Whether you want chemical weed control or not. What action or non action you want on any other subject.
(see MPA's Proposed Objective #1 for the District: "Provide a strong, single voice for the over 120 current property owners abutting Manchaug Pond who reside in 32 communities in 7 states.")

2. we need to remember our common goal is the welfare of Manchaug Pond!
There was no vision in that discussion last night. Actually there was more accusations than facts or discussion. No direction, or planning for the future.

Here's a beautiful photo of Manchaug Pond from Water's Farm in Sutton.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yesterday's Questions: My Taxes and the District

Yesterday's questions came from a caller and neighbor in Area 3 I haven't talked to since the summer. (Winter hibernation!)

She asked:

Q: If I chooses to support the Manchaug Pond Watershed District, where will my tax money go? The town general fund? Will I get a separate bill? How much will I have to pay?

A: All tax money assessed for the District will go to the District. You will be billed by the town on your property tax bill (quarterly in Douglas and semi-annually in Sutton) with the amount for the District appearing as a separate line item. The amount you are taxed will depend on two things: first, the budget you and other members vote on at the District's Annual Meeting the year before and secondly, the assessed value of your property which is determined by the Town. This makes for a proportionally fair assessment.

The MPA has proposed a first year budget of $8,000 based on the expenses of other Massachusetts watershed districts and state requirements for municipalities. This would include a bond for the treasurer, audit, mailing costs for the annual meeting warrant, and a stabilization fund, and perhaps but may not be needed, attorney fees and town fees reimbursing the tax collector's office for services in the collection of your money. Given the average home is valued at $350,000. you are looking at an $82. tax for the year spread out in 2 or 4 payments depending on your town. The town would then cut the District a check for the amount collected.

Q. I was told the District would be required to hire a full time engineer and a full time caretaker for the dam. Is that true?

A. No, there will be no paid employees of the District. The day to day functions of the District will be carried out by the District Clerk (elected yearly), the Treasurer (elected yearly), and a Management Committee of three individuals (elected, staggered three year terms): all are volunteers and all elected and property owners in the District.

Currently, the dam's ownership is still with Interface Fabrics Group. The Manchaug Pond Watershed District is being modeled after successful, experienced Massachusetts' Districts formed in the 1990's, who have helped us develop/project a realistic budget. These Districts do own and control their dam and use the volunteer staff for daily monitoring and adjusting of the water level and many of the maintenance needs such as mowing, brush cutting, etc of the dam. With Manchaug Pond's dam, every other year the services of an engineering firm would need to be contracted for the state required dam safety inspections - this is not a full time position.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sutton Calls Meeting on the District

A MPA member called the MPA President today from Florida for an update an lake events as he hasn't gotten his Massachusetts mail in awhile. So if you haven't gotten your mail from the Town, or the MPA newsletter, here's the latest meeting announcement!

The Sutton Board of Selectman has called a public meeting "with the abutters of the Pond to hear your support and concerns." The Meeting will be held this
Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sutton Senior Center on Hough Road in South Sutton. (Off of Whitins Road ) The Board of Selectman explained in their letter, "We have heard many discussions by the association about the benefits of forming such a district, but as a Board we feel that we have yet to actually hear from the Sutton residents..."

The MPA encourages all to attend, both Douglas and Sutton property owners on Manchaug Pond, with waterrights and, if you like, those who rent or have other interests. You do not have to be a registered voter or a Sutton resident to attend and voice your opinion.

If you cannot attend the meeting Thursday, the Board ask that you contact them in writing: Selectman Chairman, Sutton Town Hall, 4 Uxbridge Road, Sutton, MA 01590,
Or participate in the Public Comment Period during the Board's regularly scheduled meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of every month,
Or email Selectman Clerk for the Board at

See you there!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Flashboards Going In

The Interface employee and caretaker of the Manchaug Pond dam, gave the MPA a call this morning to update all of you on today's activities with the dam.

He reports that he has to open the gate a bit to take the water down so he can get the flashboards back in. Once the boards are in, he will begin filling the lake for its summer level.

This photo was taken June 10, 2006.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Question of the Day!

Playing Trivial Pursuit (Young Players Edition!) today with my daughter we came across a question in the "Science and Technology" category for you!

"Who invented the first successful outboard motor - Ole Evinrude, Lionel Johnson or Clyde Mercury?"

This photo was taken in January. The 12ft green Mirro craft on the right of the photo had a 1969 six horsepower Johnson until last year when it was sadly retired.

Oh, and the answer is: "Ole Evinrude"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

MPA Newsletter in the Mail!

The blog has been quiet not because there isn't much happening but just the opposite! I have been busy working on the winter newsletter I had expected to get out in Dec. Well, today it came back from being printed so I am pleased to say it will be in your mailbox starting tomorrow (and well before spring!) This issue is 12 pages of information from the grant award to facts about the district effort, two articles on the history of Manchaug and an advertisement from a MPA member offering his home for sale to us first on the lot I have always considered the best spot on the lake. I hope you enjoy this issue. If you would like to submitt a few words for the next issue, I would love it. Also if you see a few errors - words not centered or an extra tab - it is the process of transfering the newsletter from the publishing program to the copy machine. We did a whole lot better this time with the transfer than we did with the summer issue.

The lake is doing a whole lot of moaning and groaning and the temps have been very cold at zero F in the morning and a strong, bitter cold wind through the day. If you want a change... go to warmer temps with the blog of a former Manchaug Pond resident (he used to wind surf the waters during the days of professor Nunnemacher, sail a sunfish with his Dad in the days of MPA sailboat races and tour the lake int the little motorboat with the old Johnson motor) as he checks out the deserts states of California, Arizona and the like in his Airstream. Niced photos!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Is Our Dam Safe? YES!

I had an email today asking whether or not our Manchaug Dam is safe. There is talk around that it is not and with this rain, warmer temperatures, and flooding in the forecast lets look at the facts based on the reports held by the state Office of Dam Safety.

Without doubt, the dam is in GOOD CONDITION and continues to be inspected daily and maintained regularly and as needed by the owner, Interface Fabrics Group, and under state requirements. It has been inspected within the last six months by a professional engineer registered with the Commonwealth and by the Office of Dam Safety. Official engineers and inspectors, as well as the MPA president, were on site when repairs were made to the low-level outlet gate in Sept. 2006.

MPA holds all dam safety reports on record with the state which reports "the dam has performed satisfactorily for nearly 170 years, and no significant deficiencies were observed." All maintainence and recommendations are listed from bolts replaced to brush cut to masonary work performed. The reports also give photos, engineer's plans/drawings and details from reservoir size to the surficial geology of the area, faulting and seismicity of the area and bedrock. Details, details, details. The stack of reports are 4 inches high and have been read by the MPA President and Corresponding Secretary with no surprises found.

Our "dam has been classified as a large, high-hazard dam under DEM (now Department of Conservation and Recreation or DCR) guidelines by virtue of the height of the dam and reservoir storage." So all dams the size of Manchaug's and because it holds back more that 1,000 acre-feet are listed as high-hazard. This classification requires inspection every two years by a professional engineer.

Hope this puts your worries to rest! A memo from Dam Safety states,"It is the dam owners decision to operate the dam as he/she desires, as long as operation is conducted safely in compliance with dam safety laws and any other applicable local, state or federal regulations." There is alot of space there for the owner to flood us, dry dock us and let the dam get rundown! I remember under the previous owner about 24 years ago, the lake was so high we took the boat across the lake to visit my sister-in-law driving right over her lawn in 3 feet of water right up to the top of the deck. My brother in law was in the doorway yelling, "Don't make waves!!" We thank Interface caretaker for keeping the Weather Channel on 24/7, and for Interface for getting permission from the state to delay drawdown last summer until after Labor Day so we could enjoy the lake and we thank Interface for making maintenance a priority!

Rest easy.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Beautiful Day Yesterday

It was beautiful on the lake yesterday: sunny, blue skys, and the 7 -8 inches of snow we received in the past few days gave a fresh layer to the lake. The day was quiet as it most often is on a weekday, with an ice fisherman or two seen at lunch time, a couple snowmobilers mid afternoon and as supper time approached, a man and his dog. My daughter and grandson walked across the lake for a visit and coaxed us into a walk back to her house for a visit. On our way home, the big old Golden Retriever ran the distance to give my youngesst daughter a big friendly greeting and then was off running home as well.

On the walk over, these tracks were seen where a seagull had touched down for a little rest.

One thing I wanted to mention... our MPA President was quoted in the January 18th Worcester Telegram at a Douglas Selectman's meeting as stating about the 40 year old MPA's ability to preserve the welfare of the pond, "We need to move up to the 21st century". Specifically in the past few years under his leadership, the MPA has been doing just that from putting memberhips lists on Excel spreadsheets, to storing documents on the computer, to writing grants, and now - responding to the call of our membership - moving toward the formation of a lake district. The days of keeping our treasurer's records in a shoebox are long gone! and our response to the issues of today can not be just meetings with talk and more talk. Positive action needs to be taken with the future of the residents and the lake in mind.

and speaking of technology... I need a new battery for the digital camera as it is not keeping the charge and I could only get a picture or two out of it today AND if you need to reach me about the water level, meetings or anything else, email me as my phone service is down until March 9th as I am caught in the Vonage - Verizon abyss! sorry! Truly frustrating :((


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