Thursday, April 30, 2009

Support Waters Farm Annual Plant Sale!

Pick up a order form today at the Sutton Town Hall to order your annual flowers and vegetables to benefit Waters Farm Preservation. Vegetables offered include Sweet 100's tomatoes as well as Early Girl and BIg Boy, green peppers and cucumbers. Annuals include 4 colors of petunias, red and blue salvia, marigolds, lobelia, impatiens, dusty miller, wax begonias, ageratum and alyssum all priced at $2.00 per 6 pack. Specialty hanging baskets are also ready to order at 10 inch and 12 inch size and include fuchsia, new guinea impatiens, ivy geranuim and petunias.

Order today for pick up May 16th from 9 to noon at the Darling Barn!

Supporting Waters Farm, a living museum donated by a past secretary of the MPA helps preserve conservation land in the Manchaug Pond watershed.

File photos provided by MPA 1st Vice President.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Photos from the Spring Cleanup!

A few photos from the Spring Cleanup! Sorry I only captured the ramp... roadsides and the lake shoreline also were spruced up. I should have taken a picture of the father/son team in their boat, their rubber boots and the pair that was declared most fashionable! Next year...

Thanks to the Town of Sutton Highway Dept. for providing the truck and taking care of the trash collected.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Comments and Questions on the Flashboards

All flashboards in. Let's count them... (every day!)

Anonymous said...

Great Job MPA, Question:
Who ever took these pictures knew when the flashboards were going in. So with that in mind does that person know if the owner directed them in and how many just to keep us quiet for now. Or are there more boards to be placed in to capture all rains and runoff for the lake to go to a normal level and that is still a long way to go.
But we would like to say good hard work from all involved that raised an eyebrow or stood up for the right cause. Lets not stop here, lets fill it to its max level!
Thanks MPA, Resident that appreciated all your hard work.

April 26, 2009 10:17 AM

Nice to hear from a resident!

The Corresponding Secretary (yours truly) took the photos of the flashboards going in.

WHAT tipped the MPA off? Well, at the April 15th MassDEP site evaluation, we were told a determination could be out in about a week. On April 21, DEP issued a UNILATERAL ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER to the dam owner stating "within three (3) days of the date of this ORDER, install the flashboards on the main spillway of the dam and thereafter maintain the water levels at least to the Rule Curve elevations, as described in the June 13, 2008 letter to MassDEP, unless and until a final Order of Conditions under the Wetlands Protection Act supersedes this ORDER."

After the letter was received, the dam owner opened fully the low level gate making the MPA Board suspect/hope compliance was near. Sure enough at the end of the work day on Friday, April 24th (the third day), two mill employees put the flashboards in and closed the low level gate.

The DEP Unilateral Administrative Order documents 7 violations to the Wetlands Protection Act and its Regulations observed directly by DEP including altering several miles of bank, altering over an acre of bordering wetlands, and altering over 50 acres of land under water. As we read it, failure to comply would have resulted in penalties of up to twenty-five thousand dollars per day per violation after the issuance of the order.

This order is in place "unless and until the final Order of Conditions (from the Sutton Conservation Commission) supersedes this ORDER."

Of course, the dam owner has the right to appeal this order, requesting an adjudicatory hearing, as he appealed the Sutton Order of Conditions to MassDEP.

Let's all keep an eye on things at the dam. And while this short term goal has been realized and run-off from the watershed continues to slowly bring up the waterlevel, lets pray for rain while the MPA continues to work the remaining long term goals.

Rain Forecasted for Tuesday

Flashboards are in, thank God, the DEP and the Conservation Commission! Now we need rain. In spring when the soils in the watershed are already wet/saturated, the majority of any rainfall will end up in the lake as run off. Fuddy, the old dam caretaker, used to tell us that 1 inch of rain at this time can give us a 10 inch increase in the waterlevel. (the old engineer's report confirms this info.) So 3 inches of rain would fill us nicely!

The weather according to Channel 7:

Much cooler air will continue to work from Boston to Worcester. Temps will go from the 80s to the 60s in an hour! Overnight lows in the low 50s. Partly cloudy skies. NE wind 5-15 mph.

Much cooler with sunny skies. Less humid with highs in the low 70s---mid 60s at the immediate coast.

Monday Night

Clear skies. Lows in the 50s.

Sunny & hot again. Highs near 90. Watch out for a late day t-storm.


Much cooler. Sunny skies. Highs in the upper 60s.

Sunny. Delightful. Highs in the 60s.

WBZ is calling for rain Weds and perhaps Friday and Saturday if not tonight. So between the two weather channels hopefully we'll get something!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm with you, Bubby!

Anonymous said...

This is more like a drama blog on a yearly basis. Boards will be in and everything will work out. Have a great summer....bubby

April 17, 2009 3:51 PM

Bubby! I totally agree... but if you only knew how much time the MPA Board of Directors and so many others on the town and state level are putting into this drama you'd buy a front row seat!

Here's a look at the flow leaving Manchaug today. Open and open WIDE!

Totally white water.

The area between the two ponds, Manchaug and Steven's, is totally flooded. Yesterday when I walked by I could clearly see the land where the skunk cabbage is growing.


Ready Bubby for more drama? Here we go... April 15th MassDEP's Wetlands Section Chief held a site evaluation at Manchaug Pond. He started the meeting at the dam, walked down to a wetland on Holt Road, and then drove to the inlet at The Old Holbrook Place Campground. What did he find... low-level gate open, no flashboards in and water flowing over the spillway; bordering wetlands down 2 feet and drying out; all 5 1/2 miles of bank dry; the majority of the shoreline in its natural state - unpopulated; concern for shallow wells of property owners; coves which provide habitat for turtles, frogs, ducks, etc - dry; spawning areas for fish - also dry.

The Chief told all in attendance he would most likely have a determination in about a week. His attorneys took notes...


Let's look to tomorrow ... the state has given the dam owner the "out" they needed from their dilemma ~ "compliance" is the right thing to do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cleanup Keeps a Tally

"Everybody's Runnin on Dunkin and I'm Not Lovin it"

Our 1st Vice President and Cleanup Coordinator got creative this year and brought us a new slogan! She also asked the 23 volunteers to keep a tally sheet of what they picked along the roadside and shoreside, wanting to know where the trash is coming from. As volunteers checked in we found the brands were specific to certain areas. McDonald and plastic bottles were reported popular in the coves; McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, cigarette packs along Manchaug Road, glass vodka bottles at the ramp, etc. Also note the bottle return for Aquafin water in ME and CA but NOT MA.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Runoff from the watershed - Cleanup tomorrow

Water continues to flow into Manchaug Pond from the watershed. This particular Sutton unnamed tributary was surveyed last summer by MassWildlife - 120 brook trout were counted.

Tomorrow is our Spring Cleanup event. See my previous post for details.... See you out there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hang Tight - Don't Panic and Don't Act Desperate!

Here's the recap as of today:

Our dam owner filed a NOI (Notice of Intent) last August with the Conservation Commission in Sutton to take the water level down. March 4th there was another public hearing before Sutton Conservation Commission at which the dam owner presented an even lower level siting a need to comply with 1/2 PMF Storm Standard (Possible Maximum Flood - lot of variables go into the calculation and it is specific for each dam - etc. Rip rap or black top on the earthen side is the solution.)

Bottomline: Dam owner is trying to identify a new owner for the dam.

Whitin Watershed District reports a friendly take over of their dam is just a vote away with the details all ironed out.

With respects to Manchaug Pond Dam, the dam owner reports all serious proposals will be considered!

To date we have on record:

* a 3/24/09 order from Sutton Conservation Commission to keep at historic levels.

* a 4/6/09 letter from Office of Dam Safety to dam owner stating the dam has not been ruled unsafe, please submit more info, and dam owner is obligated to comply with local Conservation Commissions.

* a 4/9/09 letter from Mass Department of Environmental Protection to dam owner ordering historic levels be maintained - flashboards in - during appeal process.

Tomorrow will give you an answer as to whether the dam owner complies or not.

MPA continues to work on short term goal of getting the flashboards in and low level gate closed and a long term goal of identifying a dam owner for the Manchaug Pond Dam and an Operation and Maintenance Plan calling for historic levels, as well as doing some creative thinking out of the box to identify all options.

Stay home, stay calm, stay to the plan. I'll report more tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2009

While Push Continues for Flashboards... WATCH OUT FOR ROCKS!

All are still pressing for "flashboards in!" .... more calls yesterday and today, more meetings scheduled on the push...

This morning the lake was calm - like a mirror. Three bass fishing boats from the State Public Access Ramp came up the channel at a snail's pace, motors tipped up, with a man at the each bow watching and directing to avoid the submerged rocks. Makes you want to yell, "stay right!" and once through the old dam, "stay in the middle!"

This photo was taken Tuesday at the ramp:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What's the Score! Flashboards__ Breach ___

If you go back and read comments sent in by readers and my responses, you gain a bit more insight into the game, the complexity of it and the ever-evolving plan. I can tell you that this past month the game has gone from a slow moving football-type game of delays and postponements to a rousing game of ping pong with the ball change hands repeatedly this week alone. New info may be out there that I am not yet aware, but here's a few answers for today...

Are the flashboards in? Could be - I haven't heard or driven by yet today. Sutton Conservation Commission (SCC) ordered them in so that historic levels could be maintained. 1-0 The 10 day waiting period has passed earlier this week so now we will see compliance or enforcement.

Did the dam owner appeal to DEP because they didn't like the SCC ruling?
Sure they did - at the last "hour" so to speak - for more delays. I will tell you now that the MPA discussed appealing the decision to DEP before it came out if SCC ruled anything less than historic - last year we had a major fish kill at a level higher than the latest dam owner proposal - how could we settle for anything less than what was good for the health of this ecosystem. SCC came through with a solid, detailed Order of Conditions which upholds the Wetlands Protection Act. 1-0

Will the appeals process delay getting the flashboards in?
It could have but MassDEP stands for Department of Environmental Protection. DEP told interface to put the boards in last year without SCC involvement. That position has not changed. The flashboards need to be put in to keep this ecosystem from further harm during the appeal. 2-0

What about Dam Safety?
Ah... glad you asked! Tuesday I was at DCR with two Lakes and Ponds Program staff getting those shells identified. (I'll tell you about that later. Boy, were they interested! Something like 15 out of 3,500 Mass lakes have them!) When they started taking about waterlevel and drawdown, I stopped them and told them we have no control of the water and the relationship with the dam owner has changed to no cooperation and we have had great changes to the levels... those state employees assumed the Office of Dam Saftey had declared us "unsafe." NO!, no determination has ever been issued - all the MPA hears and the record shows the Manchaug Pond Dam is well-maintained, in good condition and safe. 3-0

The MPA President, an official umpire, says 3-0 looks good for flashboards in. So now the ball is with the dam owner. Compliance seems reasonable.

That's some of the outcomes on the short term goal of getting the waterlevel up for spring. We also have the Douglas Conservation Commission looking at the effect the Sutton-located dam will have on the shoreline bank, wetlands, coves and critical vernal pool habitats in Douglas. (Remember the NOI only went to NHEndangered Species Program - not the significantly revised plan recently submitted by the dam owner and it has been ruled it is not a "limited project.") I would bet that DCC in upholding the Wetlands Protection Act will put the score to 4-0. But we won't get confident or let our guard down- we need to present our facts there as well.

Okay - that's short of today. loopholes and legal mumbo jumbo could be next. We won't rest until it is permanently resolved.

But... the Manchaug Pond flow chart/solution plan is a two armed monster: Operations AND Ownership. Check this article just in from a director on the Board and Past President of the MPA: scroll down to Local News. We have heros on the Operations side of our plan. We need a hero on the Ownership side. We need a dam owner invested in the water, who sees its value and will not only work with the ecosystem and the property owners who have spent decades and lifetimes knowing and advocating for Manchaug Pond, but who can capitalize on the whole deal to make it cost-efficient, sustaining and productive. That would give us a clear lead and an eventual win and and would give the out our dam owner wants. We need creative thinking, out-of-the box type stuff if you will.

In closing,a special thanks today to the Towns of Sutton and Douglas - their Administrators and Conservation Commissioners and staff, and the state agencies from Dept. of Environmental Protection, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Dept. of Fish and Game and our pond's state legislators who continue to put so much time and research into the best avenues to take in the protection of our Commonwealth's water resource and specifically our Manchaug Pond!

4-0 Sure would be nice to have a winning season!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Horse-Keeping Seminar Scheduled - April 25th

How about a Mass Aggie Horsekeeping Seminar ! In cooperation with UMass Extension and the MPA's 319 Grant educational program, a horse keeping seminar will be held Saturday April 25th, 2009 in the Sutton Town Hall.

All are welcome! Here's the agenda:

10 a.m. BASICS OF PASTURE MANAGEMENT - Dr. Stephen Herbert
Well managed pastures can furnish high-quality, nutritious feed at a relatively low cost. Dr. Stephen Herbert will discuss the basics of pasture establishment, and managing pastures for horse and livestock.

Many weeds in pastures are actually quite palatable and nutritious if the pasture is maintained in a vegetative state and not allowed to become too mature. Both, horses and livestock usually avoid eating poisonous plants as long as quality hay or pasture is available. However, faced with no pasture or hay, an animal might decide to sample one of the poisonous weeds. An overview of weed management in pasture and hay fields will be discussed.

12:00 p.m. Lunch provided

Spring rains may result in manure and mud runoff threatening water quality. Dr. Hashemi will discuss managing nutrients and manure on horse and livestock farms, and review simple management practices for small equine and livestock operations. 

1:30 p.m. HAY QUALITY PRINCIPLES - Dr. Stephen Herbert
Hay is an important and the most commonly used feed. Feeding hay of unknown or low quality may adversely affect animal nutrition, and will cost more than necessary. Learn about hay quality for horses and how to determine it. This will be in-part a hands-on workshop examining several hay samples of varying quality.

2:30 p.m. Adjourn

Cost $20 per person. Lunch provided.

To sign up or for more information contact Marty Jo Henry at or 508-476-7241

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Noteworthy Quote

"In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy."

Nature Conservancy's John Sawhill

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Word of Thanks to the MPA Board of Directors

A message of appreciation to the MPA Board of Directors from an MPA Member, received April 3rd:

"Many thanks for your regular updates to the blog and for the emails...

I do miss the days of Fuddy stopping by my house and telling me about the flashboards and/or how many inches he had the gate open.

As a relatively new property owner on the lake I really appreciate all the time and effort the MPA board has put into this and the professional approach from all.

Thanks again-"

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Manchaug Wildlife: Woodpeckers of all kinds!

Through it all, we are finding new friends who share our love for the lake and the quality of life offered by the area - and who appreciate the forum offered by the MPA. This photo and message were submitted this week from a new friend in the watershed.

"Thank you for all the background information about the pond and ramp.

I have seen that you enjoy reporting about the birds and wildlife in the
Last week I observed 5 different kinds of woodpeckers in my back yard.
Male and female downy woodpeckers
A male hairy woodpecker
Male and female red-bellied woodpeckers
A northern "yellow shafted" flicker
and a pileated woodpecker (see photo attached)

Thanks, again."

What a great photo Dick! Last summer we often hear three pileateds calling to each and their distinctive drumming resonating through the nieghborhood. They are huge, loud birds! My daughter in the Douglas woods has quite a few new holes in the oaks in her yard. No small damage! We'll have to see if we can find where they nest. Thanks for submitting!

Friday, April 03, 2009


SATURDAY, April 18th beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the State Public Boat Ramp, in cooperation with the Town of Sutton Highway Department

and enhanced by our DEP 319 Non Point Source Pollution Grant... MPA members and friends will hit the pavement with gloves and garbage bags in hand to clean the roadsides, break the waves with small boats and long arms to clean the shoreline and take to the turf with rakes to spruce up the ramp all in a Manchaug Pond/watershed-wide cleanup event!

So mark your calendar, call out your Boy and Girl Scout Troop, grab the neighbor and relatives and get out here and join us! Come early, stay late! Come late, leave early! Just come :))

Rain or Shine!

Bags and the dump truck will be provided but you should bring your own gloves, rake, etc. We'll ask the treasurer to pick up a few refreshments.

The educational exhibit made possible by our DEP 319 grant will provide info on lawn and landscape maintenance in a watershed, septic system maintenance, rain gardens and more! Free handouts.

Check the archives for photos of our past spring and fall cleanup events!

Check DEP's site:

Section 319 of the Clean Water Act of 1987 established a national program to control nonpoint sources (NPS) of pollution. Each year MassDEP issues a Request for Responses (RFR) for competitive projects to be funded through Section 319 grants.This year's RFR will be issued on or about April 1, 2008. Proposals will be due at 12:00 Noon on June 3, 2008.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Plenty of the Eagle but NO Flashboards

This afternoon the eagle spent quite a bit of time on the old causeway (high and dry) eating a fish. Crows came in to join in the feast, but annoyed - he/she flew off. I watched him fly about two feet above the water, across the lake - the large, powerful wings solidly and deliberately working to bring the eagle decidedly on Blueberry Island.

Photos - none. Sadly, I stood on shore amazed at the beauty but empty handed wishing I could capture at least one photo to share with you - but there my youngest daughter stood front row center at the channel's edge watching it all with my Canon PowerShot G9 in her hand - but no photos. Ugh.

No flashboards today either. April 1 was the deadline date for flashboards to go in. The dam owner did not come through for us nor for the environment here on Manchaug Pond.

April 2nd puts other wheels in motion. We have had meetings, emails and phone calls just in case our dam owner didn't pursue other options. Like the eagle's wings, we will continue to work consciously and deliberately to achieve

the short term goal of getting the flashboards in to prevent long-term damage.

We know the urgency of our effort. Progress is being made. Late last night and today we received emails and calls which were most encouraging from those in the driver's seats and two new angle's identified with a meeting Monday. Good.

We just need to stay on task, to keep to the plan, to feed information to the agencies making the decisions - all to be most effective. Camper emails are coming in calling for rallies, bus trips, letter campaigns and more. There is nothing more powerful than a grassroots campaign, but we need the campaign to work where and with the agencies currently making the decision, currently on the case.

What can you do? Keep the MPA informed of adverse impacts as they arise. If this issue effects you, put it on paper and send it to the commissions and agencies involved. The Sutton Conservation Commission just issued an Order - they need to be kept informed. The Douglas Conservation Commission also upholds the Wetlands Protection Act and needs to receive our testimony. Also copy to the state DEP waterways, fisheries, ... keep the facts coming...

And if that all isn't enough, how about the latest rumor that a local business is seriously looking at buying the mill. It might be nice to have a change of dam owners about now!


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