Friday, July 31, 2009

Heavy Rains, Runoff a Test for Grant Sitework

The afternoon brought heavy rains to already saturated soils here in the Manchaug watershed. 2 plus inches of rain by the rain gauge lakeside.

Here down past the village on Whitins Road a tree took down wires and made travel a bit dangerous.

But back at Manchaug Pond as we check in on the site work for the stormwater grant at the Public Access Boat Ramp, we see a lot of runoff being caught and filtered.

The Highway department foreman had the original asphalt taken out at the edge putting a greater slope in around the cobblestones to allow the flow off the parking lot into the plunge pools.

We definitely will need plants that can handle lots of moisture and wet roots! Native species have been chosen and ordered from the New England Wildflower Society.

Our MPA s.319 Grant Coordinator and Sutton Town Highway Department Superintendent are already discussing needs on the other side of the ramp parking lot to capture and filter the runoff there. So after this grant is completed next year, the MPA and the town will partner with pen to paper in hand to forge a new grant project to further address water quality and weed growth here on Manchaug.

Furthering the benefits to our water resources, the town is using this technology over at the Marion's Camp Town Beach on Lake Singletary with the planning of 3 rain gardens in the parking lot area.

It Is Out! Secretary Bowles Decision Released by Town

July 7th was the meeting. July 14th was the deadline for comments. July 24th the decision was expected. Here it is! The long awaited decision by state Environmental Affairs' Secretary Ian Bowles has been released by the Town of Sutton website.

Over 30 state agencies, environmental groups and individuals joined the MPA to stand in support of Manchaug Pond and bring to light concerns and devastating impacts of the proposed project to breach the dam: Senator Richard Moore, Reps. Callahan and Kujawski, the Blackstone River Coalition and Mass Audubon, The Bass Federation and the Massachusetts Bass Federation, Douglas Selectman, Town of Sutton, Sutton Conservation Commission, and MassDEP, Mass Department of Fish and Game, Mass Dept of Conservation and Recreation and a number of citizens and attorneys. Secretary Bowles notes "the proposed project has garnered widespread opposition from the public and from officials at both the state and local level."

In the document, it is clear that Secretary Bowles understands the value of this lake to the property owners in the watershed, to up and down stream, to the local communities and to the Commonwealth. He calls for an arrangement "to prevent significant adverse environmental impacts to Manchaug Pond and provide for the continued use of this recreational fishery of state-wide importance by the boating and fishing public."

Further he notes that comments from the "Office of Dam Safety (ODS) state that the dam was in satisfactory condition as recently as December of 2008, and that the ODS has not determined the dam to be in unsafe condition."

Fully outlined by the Secretary's requirement that the dam owner perform a full Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is the numerous adverse impacts, the need for specific studies identifying the scope of the impacts, the licensing and permitting this would require, and significant mitigation measures. "The project is predicted, by both the proponent and the concerned commenters, to have significant consequences for wetland resource areas, species habitat, and downstream water flows, which many in turn adversely impact nearby water supplies, wastewater treatment facilities and/or septic systems. In addition, commenters have stressed that this dramatic change to the size of existing pond would threaten to severely curtail recreational uses of the Pond, reduce the value of abutting properties, and harm nearby business that rely on this heavily used public recreational resource."

Here's a few examples of the many specific impacts noted and the mitigation required - it just makes the whole project absurd and cost prohibitive:

The MPA presented testimony received from a recent survey of members and other abutters as to current impacts to private wells. In response to that concern, Secretary Bowles stated the dam owner's report should "inventory all public and private water supply wells that could be affected by the permanent drawdown caused by the dam removal. This includes but is not necessarily limited to all public and private water supply wells within a one-mile radius of the Pond. If water supplies are diminished, mitigation should be proposed by the proponent."

Mass Dept of Fish and Game (DFG) "is concerned that the removal of the dam would result in substantial adverse impacts to a recreational fishery of state-wide importance and effectively eliminate the use of the Pond for recreational boating by the Public, while providing limited environmental benefits in return." Fisheries surveys of the Pond reveal the presence of ten species and "of the Mumford River have yielded 21 species and the unnamed tributary to Manchaug Pond is identified as a significant coldwater fisheries resource. The DEIR should fully evaluate the impacts of the proposed project on fishers within the Pond and associated tributaries..."

In speaking of the DFG boat ramp and property on Manchaug Pond, "the removal of the dam would result in lowered water levels and effectively eliminate the ability of the public to launch and retrieve trailered watercraft. In addition, there are numerous other private recreational uses sponsored on or near the Pond." The detailed analysis here should include the identification and impact on current and future recreational public uses of the pond and propose mitigation to offset impacts to recreational interests.

How about a graphic survey of all private or publicly owned and operated water-dependent facilities, including but not limited to: facilities for swimming, fishing, and diving; docks, piers, floats and/or moorings; shore protection structures, headwalls and culverts; and road crossings.

And how about where "the project will result in the elimination of Torrey Road"... lets look at the impacts from its removal to nearby residences, businesses and identify alternative routes, identify current number of vehicles using and specify where this traffic would go in order to provide access within this portion of Sutton and Douglas." And address "ownership of Torrey Road and whether the proponent possesses sufficient rights to eliminate this roadway that is currently used by the public."

We didn't even talk yet about the impact to bordering wetlands, land under water and the permanent loss of 9,147 linear feet of bank, oh the list goes on and on! Read it for yourself!

To the Town website:

Here's the link to the document itself:
The link to EOEEA Secretary Ian Bowles decision on the proposed removal of the Manchaug Dam

The Manchaug Pond Association remains committed to Manchaug Pond having served as stewards and advocates for the past 40+ years, we expect to continue this work into the future. As suggested by Secretary Bowles, we look to foster the partnerships and identify the arrangements necessary to "prevent significant adverse environmental impacts to Manchaug Pond and provide for its continued use..."

Chronicle Article: "State Requiring Detailed Dam Report"

Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, July 30, 2009

State requiring detailed dam report

The Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. has been on the receiving end of a laundry list of complaints from officials and residents in Sutton and Douglas. Last Friday, the state added a lengthy list of its own.

Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, stated in a certificate that the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. and its parent company Interface Global must provide a thorough Draft Environmental Impact Report prior to moving forward with the company's plans to divest ownership and liability of the dam.

The company had stated that it was considering breaching or eliminating the dam, which has not been in use since the nearby mills in Douglas closed years ago. Interface Global had filed an Environmental Notification Form to help move the project ahead.

Sutton Town Administrator Jim Smith, who has vehemently opposed the breaching proposal, says the company has a long way to go in satisfying all areas of concern with the state.

"The certificate sets a very high threshold for Interface Global to meet," he said. "In its strongest terms, I believe the answer from the state even questions the need for this proposal."

The 12-page document outlined several areas of concern about the project, most notably the "nearly universal concern about the project's potential environmental impacts, which include a substantial reduction in the pond."

The certificate goes on to list several focus areas for the proponent to consider in the DEIR report, including consequences for wetland resource areas, downstream water flows, impact on nearby property values, and the recreational impact of breaching or eliminating the dam altogether.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs held a public hearing in Sutton two weeks ago to receive input from various agencies and individuals that could be affected by the project. The office accepted dozens of letters that raised concerns over the issue up until July 14.

Wendy Porter of the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. said at the public hearing two weeks ago that no party or organization with interest in salvaging the dam has stepped forward. Porter said the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. had conversations with the town of Douglas and had attempted to sit down with Sutton, which Smith refuted.

"We have received no offers from anyone on taking ownership of the dam," Porter said at the hearing. "No one has even put a price tag on it. The dam no longer serves the purpose with the intent for why it was built.

"We believe [moving forward with the project] would ultimately result in a net benefit impact."

The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle was unable to reach Porter or the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. for comment before press time on Wednesday afternoon.

Smith said he believes the distance between the state and company demonstrates a need for Global Interface to shift how they approach their situation.

"I think people see this for what it is - a completely ill-fated plan with potential environmental consequences," he said. "In the end, I feel they will waste money trying to comply with what the state wants. They should consider putting money into an escrow account to make the situation more attractive for other parties."

The certificate calls the validity of the project into question as well. Comments received by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs from the Department of Conservation and Recreation Office of Dam Safety stated that the dam remained in satisfactory condition as of December 2008.

"ODS has not determined the dam to be in unsafe condition," states the report. "All feasible project alternatives, including in particular the 'no action alternative,' will need to be comprehensively evaluated."

Following the submission of the Draft Environmental Impact Report to Bowles, the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. will still need to go through multiple steps before final approval from the state would allow the permitting process to begin.

Smith believes the company's project is a long shot in any form to reach final approval, which could take more than a year. He says the "extraordinary demands" placed on the company may be too much to overcome without a local agency stepping in to take over ownership.

"In my opinion, they will fail," he said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Testimony: Coldwater Fishery

Here is another letter in opposition to the breaching application filed by the dam owner. This testimony was submitted by a family in the watershed of Manchaug Pond to Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles as part of the MEPA process - ENF # 14435

Dear Secretary Bowles,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments regarding the future of Manchaug Pond in Douglas and Sutton. As long-standing environmentalists in the community, we consider it of utmost importance to preserve and protect this important body of water and its watershed to the best of our ability.

We own forested property that includes a substantial portion of a tributary to Manchaug Pond. We believe it is the “unnamed tributary” referred to in the enclosed Division of Fisheries & Wildlife letter directed to the Sutton Conservation Commission dated September 15, 2008, as we had requested that Fisheries survey the stream to determine if it was a coldwater fishery. It is and, as you well know, as our climate changes it is critical that we maintain habitat that preserves and protects our native trout species. Another “disconnect” with Manchaug Pond because of drawdown that does not address the long term sustainability of this stream is unacceptable.

We also commend the efforts of the members of the Manchaug Pond Association who have worked diligently through a 319 grant to contain stormwater runoff and drainage problems to improve the overall quality of the pond’s water and aquatic life. The level of Manchaug Pond also helps keep the surrounding water table high and that is also critical to our future when the Blackstone River Valley is once again at the center of a building boom.

We do not support the current proposal to breach the dam and we contend that it is in the best interest of landowners and local and state officials to find a resolution to this problem that will include maintaining a level of water in the pond that continues to support the ecosystem that depends on it.

The members of the MPA extend our thanks to the writers for their testimony, their continued protection of the unnamed tributary/coldwater fishery, and for their significant contribution to conservation efforts in the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Did YOU Vote Yet!?!

Did you take the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle poll?

Which body of water is the most scenic in the summer?

Dorothy Pond 2
Singletary Lake 4
Ramshorn Pond 1
Manchaug Pond 11
Stevens Pond 0
Howe Pond 0
Blackstone River 3
Brierly Pond 1
Other 2

COME ON NOW! Take a minute and vote! Manchaug Pond received 11 votes as of yesterday. I know I have far more readers than that that tuned in to this blog on Monday.... and given the other ponds didn't receive all the other votes where are you!

Just click on to the title of this post and I will take you there!

More importantly, thank you to all of you who took the time to send your letter of testimony to Secretary Ian Bowles in support of Manchaug Pond. Joining the MPA is this effort are our local officials from the Towns of Sutton and Douglas, our state senator and representatives, a number of state agencies and a number of environmental advocacy organizations and friends of Manchaug Pond! Each one of us working together can make a difference! The MPA continues to work to the future of Manchaug Pond.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ease the Flow Downstream!

Here at Manchaug Pond the water level is going down... fast.

The flow as seen on Parker Road, Sutton:

Let's be thankful it did not rain overnight. The dam at Manchaug Pond and the newly implemented 1930 Rule Curve is dumping enormous amounts of water downstream.

A flood watch was implemented this past weekend at one area business with hourly monitoring of the river required. We have seen the Stevens Pond dam and the dam at Manchaug center act just as they have been designed in order to handle the tremendous flow.

The flow over Stevens Pond yesterday:

The flow in the village of Manchaug - not just a ripple.

And the water over the falls in the village center - calmer than the weekend.

But back on Manchaug Pond, trying to stick to the new rule curve, I am sure has been a challenge for the dam owner. Weekly, if not daily rainstorms, keep bringing the waterlevel up as the dam owner works to take it down the steep slope of the new curve.

While we on Manchaug Pond are happy not to have been flooded with recent rainstorms, there continues to be the nagging yet realistic concern downstream of too much water.

It is ironic that a 1930 rule curve would be employed at this time by a dam owner who never employed the curve in close to half a century of operation. The 1930 curve was designed when the lake was much smaller in size - before the new and improved big dam and big water uses downstream - and not designed with a run of river/natural flow regimes type management in mind. Downstream, during these heavy rains, does not need Manchaug's extra water just because an antiquated graph calls for it.

Perhaps we could hold back a bit to allow Stevens Pond and the Mumford River to adjust.

Monday, July 27, 2009

While You're Waiting... take the online poll!

Did you ever stop and marvel at how beautiful, just how "scenic" the views are here on Manchaug Pond? It truly is a jewel! And so many vistas available to the public - from Waters Farm Living History Museum - the well-published view of "beautiful Lake Manchaug";

from the "officially declared" scenic road - Manchaug Road - which brings you right at waters-edge with the watery expanse of a 380 acre lake, breathtaking scenes of moonlight over the water, and just the play of clouds and water meeting at a ribbon of green foliage;

from Holt Road - the road overlooking the infamous Manchaug Pond dam which gives you a magnificent view down the channel to the setting sun on the western shore...

Not to mention the wonderful opportunities provided for the public to enjoy Manchaug waters - day swimming and camping at the Old Holdbrook Place, boat launching at the public access boat ramp, camping opportunities overnight or all season at King's Family Campground and Lake Manchaug Camping, Day camping, town softball and baseball games for children at the YMCA Camp Blanchard Facility, and oh the events at Waters Farm! Manchaug Pond... And then there are the eagles and wood ducks and herons...How scenic!

Oh yes.. my original reason for posting...
Here's something to do while you are waiting for Secretary Ian Bowles of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to tell us all what the state thinks about the proposal to remove the Manchaug Pond dam...

...take the online poll at the website of the local newspaper placing your vote for THE most scenic body of water!

Visit the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle at click the post title to get there!)

Which body of water is the most scenic in the summer?

* Dorothy Pond
* Singletary Lake
* Ramshorn Pond
* Manchaug Pond
* Stevens Pond
* Howe Pond
* Blackstone River
* Brierly Pond
* Other

Now I know all you readers just love a poll, so get on over there and tell those readers what you know!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Flow Downstream & Flood Control

Sunday morning's flow downstream from Manchaug Pond and Stevens Pond at the waterfall/dam near the former library building in the Sutton village of Manchaug:

More Wildflowers in the Watershed: The Public Access Boat Ramp

Do you see them growing all along the forest floor under the many large Eastern White Pines?

Do you know these two - the white and the yellow?

According to the Connecticut Botanical Society,

this white flower is commonly called an Indian Pipe (Latin name: Monotropa uniflora)

Indian pipe, has no chlorophyll, so it cannot obtain energy from sunlight. Instead, it gets nutrients from organic matter in the soil.

• Family: Indian-pipe (Monotropaceae)
• Habitat: woods, in leafy humus
• Height: 4-10 inches
• Flower size: 3/4 inch long
• Flower color: white
• Flowering time: June to September
• Origin: native

A relative is the yellow Pinesap, Monotropa hypopithys

Pinesap plants that bloom in summer tend to be yellow, while those that bloom in fall are reddish. Pinesap, like its relative Indian pipe has no chlorophyll, so it cannot obtain energy from sunlight. Instead, it gets nutrients from organic matter in the soil.

• Family: Indian-pipe (Monotropaceae)
• Habitat: woods, usually in acid soil
• Height: 4-15 inches
• Flower size: 1/2 inch long
• Flower color: pale yellow to reddish
• Flowering time: June to October
• Origin: native

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Moss Animals" Visit from Over the Falls!

Our visitor from over the dam at Sutton Falls is called a "moss animal" or bryozoan with a Latin name of Pectinatella magnifica.

Brotozoans were first photographed last year in Manchaug Pond. These two photos were taken on the east side of the channel. Brotozoa are living colonies which attach themselves to rocks, branches and docks. My summer neighbor brought them to my attention as he noticed these "growths" on the rocks in the water in front of his cottage. He said in his 50+ years on the lake he had never seen anything like it. He thought they were masses of fish eggs but when handled they did not separate into individual egg cells.

Fisheries Biologist, Richard Hartley of MassWildlife confirmed last year's finding/identification and reported to us in an email:

"what you have at the pond are bryozoans. They fool the best
of folks when you see them for the first time. When I first encountered
them doing pond surveys I thought they were an egg mass of some kind.
They are actually colonies of thousands of individuals that come
together to form a colony much like coral in the ocean. I have some
technical information I can send you, but if you search for bryozoa in
Google, there are a lot of good articles on them. They do seem to be
more prevalent in some years but best I can gather from my research,
they tend to prefer eutrophic waters (high nutrients) and can actually
act to clear the water since they are filter feeders."

Next week, I'll share photos of another visitor from over the falls - Wolffia - this visitor traveled from the inlet at the Old Holbrook Place, along the eastern shoreline, all the way to the public boat ramp in one day via the nor'easter.

Here's a link to view Bryozoa in the Connecticut River:

Here's a link to observations made on Lake Cochiuate:

For information on eutrophic conditions and solutions:

To link to MassWildlife:

Telegram Reports MRC Still Trying to Sell Dam

The Telegram must be selling papers on this issue to have printed a 7th article in just over a month's time on the effort of the dam owner to sell the Manchaug Pond dam. Again - read for yourself. The photo is accurate for those into photography. Still no price has been set and Lake Manchaug Camping owner Karen Staruk gets a mention by the correspondent.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Manchaug Pond Dam at issue

The Manchaug Pond Dam is at the center of a controversy over dam safety versus wetlands protection. (T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE)


We’re caught in a predicament. We’ve tried
to get the two agencies to sit
down together.

SUTTON — The owners of the Manchaug Pond Dam are caught between choosing dam safety or wetlands protection. So far, they’ve chosen dam safety.

“The safe operation, liability and responsibility rest with the dam owner,” Wendy Porter of Manchaug Reservoir Corp. said this week.

Changes in the requirements of the state Office of Dam Safety in October 2007 prompted the company to lower the water level last year by about 3 feet.

The state Department of Environmental Protection earlier this year, however, issued an order requiring MRC to raise the water to the level it has been for decades.

“We’re caught in a predicament,” Ms. Porter said. “We’ve tried to get the two agencies to sit down together.”

So far, no meeting between the agencies has taken place.

Addressing why the agencies have not worked out an agreement, DEP spokesman Joseph Ferson said: “We do not agree with the premise that there’s a conflict. The company can comply with ODS and Wetlands Protection.” He said that a court case brought by the owners in Worcester Superior Court is pending and that he could not comment further.

To complicate matters, the reservoir corporation recently initiated the regulatory process to breach the dam.

They are separate issues, Ms. Porter said.

The breach process was started because the reservoir corporation’s parent company, InterfaceFABRIC, has sold all of its other properties in Massachusetts, she said.

“It’s the next step in the process. It’s only because we have divested all other properties and this is the only way available of divesting (the dam),” she said.

For two summers now, residents and business owners on Manchaug Pond have been frustrated by lower water levels.

“The strain in relationship between MRC and the Manchaug Pond community is due to the new dam safety reporting and compliance procedures imposed by the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety,” MRC President Daniel T. Hendrix said in an April 16 letter to Lake Manchaug Camping owner Karen Staruk.

“The ODS regulations define the design requirements for a safe dam and specify the circumstances under which the dam needs to demonstrate compliance. Two qualified engineering firms have evaluated the dam in accordance with these regulations and have determined that the dam cannot comply with these requirements at a water elevation above 515.9 feet,” he said.

“When we learned this, we started a yearlong process with ODS, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Sutton Conservation Commission,” he said.

MRC filed a notice of intent with the Sutton Conservation Commission on Feb. 4 proposing a revised rule curve to govern the water level at Manchaug Pond with a maximum elevation of 515.9 feet. The commission issued an order requiring MRC to maintain the historically higher water levels.

MRC appealed that decision to the DEP because of safety, Ms. Porter said. DEP issued a superseding order requiring MRC to raise the water back to the historic levels.

“ODS is not enforcing their regulations, but we’re still supposed to comply. DEP, as it relates to water levels, is enforcing theirs,” she said. The company is appealing the DEP and the conservation commission rulings.

“It is expensive. As it relates to operating level, we’ve pursued all legal avenues,” Ms. Porter said.

“The dam is well-maintained and has operated successfully for 170 years,” she said. There should be concern for houses, fire stations and schools 8.5 miles downstream, however, should the dam fail, she said.

“Even the SCC has recognized the risk that the overtopping of an earthen dam like the Manchaug Dam would lead to failure of the dam, which would be devastating to downstream property and put lives at risk,” Mr. Hendrix noted in his letter.

The MRC president cited the memorandum of understanding between the ODS and the DEP, which favors dam safety over wetlands interests. He said the Sutton Conservation Commission chose to disregard the safety concerns and issued an order of conditions that required operating the dam at unsafe levels.

Mark Briggs, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said this week: “The SCC made its decision, in part, based on ODS has not declared the dam unsafe at the historic rule curve level or even somewhat higher.”

Ms. Porter said even if the corporation got what it wanted (an order allowing it to operate the dam at the lower levels), MRC would still propose breaching the dam at this time.

The company wants to sell all of its Massachusetts property and, so far, attempts to establish new ownership of the dam have been unsuccessful.

On June 2, a quasi-municipality, Whitin Watershed District, in Douglas voted to buy the Whitin Reservoir along with its surrounding land and dam from InterfaceFABRIC. The watershed district’s liability is limited to $100,000 because it is a municipality within a municipality, according to the water district’s lawyer Don J. Virostek.

Ms. Porter said the Manchaug Pond Dam was originally part of that sale, but the buyer took it out of the deal because the Whitin Reservoir property owners did not want it.

An attempt to form a similar district around Manchaug Pond with the intention of buying the dams that affect water level, including the Manchaug Pond Dam, failed in April 2007 when Sutton selectmen voted against it.

In response to a push to have the state take ownership of the dam, Ms. Porter said the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees ODS, told abutters, “The state owns enough dams already.”

She said MRC is still open to receiving offers from anyone interested in buying the dam. She is following up on an offer that came in last Friday. No price was mentioned, she said.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven ... A Time to Bail!

The nor'easter has brought nearly 5 inches of rain to Manchaug Pond raising the water level considerably overnight and bringing in strong winds to add to the mix. This is the scene this morning on Manchaug Pond as rain and waves fill and sink boats, wind unfurled sails and ..... I'm still writing and loading pictures so tune in again...

A time to Bail! ... continued...

My neighbor said he thought about it last night - put the bow of the boat to the wind - but didn't get to it. The waves would have splashed off. Putting the motor to the lake allowed the water from last night's/today's nor'easter to come right in.

When you don't live on the lake, but have water rights - daily trips to the lake to check on things is necessary. Two "Captains" head to the lake early this morning to man the bailers! 5 gallon buckets are not traditionally used as bailers but in this situation quite necessary.

At a recent Sutton Conservation Commission meeting I watched on Sutton TV Online, a new lake resident spoke about his experience living on a lake - all new to him were the unexpected strong winds, visiting geese and the weeds and debris that wash up on the beach. I remember telling his cousin last year to tell the newcomer to close his tabletop umbrellas as the wind would love to catch them.

With the majority of Manchaug Pond property owners season summer camps and cottages - it is a good policy to secure everything from boats to umbrellas to beach toys every evening. A new MPA Membership Committee is updating and expanding our membership info and developing an informational packet for new lake residents which introduces them to Manchaug Pond, and best management practices to use around our home and landscape as well as local regulations from Douglas and Sutton all designed to keep us safe and protect the lake. If you would like to offer suggestion to the committee on info you would like to see included, just comment or email. If you want to join the committee just let us know!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Testimony - Mass Bass Federation!

(Last night's sunset)

Before we continue with Part 2 of our dam photos, lets look at the testimony submitted on behalf of Manchaug Pond :

This one from the Mass Bass Federation, an umbrella organization representing 30 fishing clubs who in turn speak for a total of 600 anglers submitted the following testimony to Secretary Ian Bowles, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs as part of the MEPA filing:

My name is Erik Kaplan, I am the Conservation/Natural Resource Director for the Massachusetts Bass Federation. I speak for the approximately 600 anglers throughout the Commonwealth when I say we vehemently oppose this project. Many of our fishing clubs hold tournaments on this Great Pond throughout the year and this beautiful pond is an asset to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

There have been fish kills on this Great Pond in recent years due to low water levels instituted by the Manchaug Reservoir Corp and their parent company Interface Global, Inc.. Breaching of the Manchaug Pond dam would completely decimate this great fishery.

The breaching of the dam would endanger the Core Habitat on the shores of Manchaug Pond. The Core Habitat has been fount to have several endangered, imperiled, threatened and or vulnerable plant or animal species living within its boundaries.

Not only would the breach impact the fishery and the Core Habitat, but it would render the current boat access site completely useless. This would be a waste of a federally funded 319 grant for the already completed improvements to this site. I also urge you to explore the impact the breach would have under Article 97 the Land Disposition Policies.

In these tough economic times one would also have to believe there would be a severe and long lasting economic impact by moving forward with the breach. Property owners and businesses alike would feel a negative impact from taxes, property values and loss of business.

I do not believe that lowering the water level of a Great Pond would help the pond in any way. I would ask this office to end this long lasting nonsense and let this Great Pond be.

Interface Global, Inc. is trying to divest all its property and liability within the Commonwealth of Mass and the breaching of the dam is a self serving project. Any other option is not viable and does not fit into their financial plan. This is nothing but an extremely large global company trying to bully a small community into submission to accomplish its own goal.

I would like to again state the Massachusetts Bass Federation does not endorse this project and would like to see the dam left in its place to keep this resource available to any and all to enjoy.

Visit their website:

The Manchaug Pond Association extends a huge thank you to MASS BASS FEDERATION for their representation at the July 7th MEPA public meeting at the Sutton Town Hall and for submitting strong testimony in support of this Great Pond.

Thank you for standing with us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yes, Telegram File Photo Incorrect

Yes, yes! You are correct. The T & G file photo appearing on the front page of the local section of the Sunday Telegram is NOT on, in or near Manchaug Pond. See for yourself:

Captioned: "The old dam sits in the middle of Manchaug Pond."

With all those trees, and other green leafy growth, it makes you wonder if the reporter and editor have ever been in the middle of a 380 acre pond. Usually when you are in the middle of a pond you are surrounded by water...
... but then there are 17 dams in the town of Sutton alone so it could be difficult choosing a file photo of the correct dam.

Our next post will look at photos of the dams on this end of the Mumford River including photos of Manchaug Pond's dam. I'll see if I can find the old dam that sits in the middle of the pond.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Telegram Release Two More Articles on Manchaug Dam

The Worcester Telegram again features the Manchaug Pond dam and the continued plight of the dam owner to find a buyer for the dam property. The Telegram took a position on Friday in an editorial and on Sunday the reporter quoted MassDEP testimony in the MEPA process the dam owner has opened up. Mass DEP is quoted repeatedly as it aims to preserve the lake ecosystem and public access rights by maintaining "the status quo", protect the water bodies up and downstream, protect downstream users such as the Douglas Wastewater Treatment Facility, and protect or provide mitigation for the private water supply wells within a half mile radius of the pond. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles will have a decision, Environmental Impact Report on the matter by July 24th.

Here's a link to Friday's editorial:

and Sunday's front page local news article:

Here's a list of the other articles:
Search results
Your search for manchaug pond dam resulted in 6 articles.

The water isnt over the dam

The company that wants to breach the dam on Manchaug Pond appears to have a long regulatory road ahead of it.
Published on 07/19/09 in the category News

The deed to the dam

An interesting interplay between public and private interests is at work in Sutton and Douglas.
Published on 07/17/09 in the category News

Dam breach comments mostly critical
Despite torrential rain and the threat of severe thunderstorms, more than 60 Sutton and Douglas residents, state and local officials packed the selectmens meeting room yesterday afternoon for the state-held meeting on Manchaug Reservoir Corp.
Published on 07/08/09 in the category News

Area residents air issues at Patrick town meeting

Hundreds of Central Massachusetts residents flocked to Shrewsbury High School tonight to talk to Gov. Deval L. Patrick about health care, shared parenting, prescription drugs and other problems they hope the state can better address. Lt. Gov.
Published on 07/08/09 in the category News

Owner intends to breach Manchaug Pond Dam

The owner of the Manchaug Pond Dam is taking steps to breach the dam, a move that would shrink the pond, reduce the flow of the Mumford River, and interfere with sewage treatment at the wastewater plant in neighboring Douglas.
Published on 06/18/09 in the category News

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blob Travels over Falls to Manchaug Pond

Can you identify this one? A camper found it this weekend on the shoreline at the inlet. Manchaug Pond property owners reported in a recent survey seeing it last summer...

Do you know it? Take a guess! and then I'll tell you more...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Day at the Lake...

Yesterday proved to be a beautiful day! Sunshine, a nice breeze and not too much fast traffic on the water. Talk with anyone who grew up on a lake and you will find endless stories of memories filled with family, friends and wonderfully adventurous, simple fun!

I was recently given a copy of the little 1955 booklet, "The Land Without a Sunday" written by Maria Von Trapp where a country had adopted a staggered work week schedule where all had a different day off. With the loss of the traditional Sunday, the society, community and family had loss the opportunity to come together in play and worship.

Today, I understand Manchaug Pond will serve a grander role ... its waters will be used in the baptism of a child.

Baptisms have long been held at Manchaug Pond with my own former neighbor bringing his congregation from the West Sutton First Baptist Church to her shores for such events.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nightime Storms Brings Rain and Morning Fog

Last night's thunderstorms, three perhaps, brought an inch of rain to the rain gauge and left the lake surrounded in a morning fog.

A check of the Mass Office of Fishing and Boating Access website (see link under FOR MORE INFORMATION!) tells us it was the American Bass Anglers Couples counting off loud and clear as they left the ramp and channel for the main part of the lake early this morning.

The MPA advises caution to all lake users as the waterlevel continues to go down and boat safety is a concern! Sunday evening 2 boats hit the wall and a third hit a rock when going through the causeway with a fourth boat hitting during the week. The many new users from the access boat ramp and at the campgrounds are not aware of the dam owner's new lowering of the lake in mid-summer bringing the many large rocks and walls just under the water's surface. The MPA Board of Directors is lining up a number of boating safety education initiatives for Manchaug Pond's visitors and MPA members. Details to come!

Sun is shining - the fog has burnt off! BE SAFE!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Zebra Mussels and Public Access

The entry of the invasive zebra mussel has caused the temporary closing of 10+ public access boat ramps in western Massachusetts in an effort to stop their spread and now Quabbin is added to the list to rightly protect Boston's drinking water supply.

Here on Manchaug Pond we know the problem of other aquatic invasives plants such as fanwort and variable milfoil and we will soon learn more now that the dam owner is no longer cooperating with us to employ lake level drawdown - the successful method we have used since 1991 - and with the introduction of Asian Clam last fall at Manchaug's public access ramp and purple loosestrife in the watershed. With the dam owner's new lower waterlevels the past two years, we are seeing new invasives, especially reed canary grass, fill the shoreline. Hopefully the high water mandated by MassDEP and achieved the beginning of July will help eliminate these populations. On to Quabbin!
(photo courtesy of MassDCR)

Try this link for the Quabbin Cam! for actual footage:

Here's the story as reported by the Boston Globe:

Quabbin Reservoir closed to boaters amid zebra mussel concerns

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / July 15, 2009

The menacing zebra mussel species that has taken over a Berkshires lake has been found in a stream that feeds into the Housatonic River in Western Massachusetts, amplifying fears that the invasive freshwater mollusk could contaminate drinking water supplies and other waterways throughout the state.

To prevent further spreading, state environmental officials Wednesday banned private recreational boating at the Quabbin Reservoir, a Boston source of drinking water and one of the state’s most prime fishing areas.

Richard K. Sullivan, commissioner of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said yesterday that the move was a precaution but was needed considering the zebra mussel’s threat of taking over lakes and ponds throughout the state. The mussels and their larvae have the ability to cling to boats and spread from pond to pond. Already the species, which has ravaged the Great Lakes, has invaded the Laurel Lake in the Berkshires.

State officials say they have little recourse in stopping the eventual spread of the mussel into the Housatonic. But given the continuous threat of the invasive mussel that can wipe out native aquatic life, clog water intake pipes, and foul drinking water supplies, an emergency action plan has been put into place to stop it from spreading to waterways elsewhere, particularly the Quabbin.

"Given the fact that we ware talking about our public drinking water supply, the spread of the mussel could have significant impact to the infrastructure and ecology there,’’ Sullivan said. ‘‘We’re still respecting the right to public access, but just balancing that with the need to protect our drinking water supply.’’

The Department of Conservation and Recreation will maintain a rental boat fleet at the reservoir, allowing some sort of boating and fishing to continue. But the private boat ramps at the reservoir will remain closed for at least 45 days, until the state can design a way to regulate private boating and make sure all boats that enter the water are cleansed.

Sullivan said a long-term plan could include an official prohibition of private boats on the water, or a system that will guarantee that any boat brought to the reservoir has been properly decontaminated.

The move to close the reservoir and start a boater education plan on ways to properly cleanse boats — including kayaks and canoes — is part of a 2005 master plan that was drafted when the threat of the zebra mussel spreading here was first realized.

Originally from Russia, the mollusks were first found in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. Since then, they have ravaged the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and spread to waterways in Connecticut and New York.

Last week, the mussel was discovered in the 175-acre Laurel Lake in Lee and was found to be thriving days later. Already, its presence has alarmed boaters, environmentalists, and state officials who realize the threat of spreading.

The mussel is the poster child for a foreign species that wreak havoc on an environment, altering aquatic species and habitats.

Power and steel plants and other businesses that use water sources spend millions of dollars each year in the Great Lakes region chemically treating or retooling pipes to prevent mussel buildup.

Sullivan said there is no known threat to the Quabbin drinking water. While the mussel has thrived in the Laurel Lake because of its nonacidic makeup and high calcium levels, the reservoir does not provide the same biochemical advantages. Still, the move was a precaution given the threat of the species, and was welcomed by environmental groups who said the threat of the species is serious enough to ban even recreational boating.

Jack Hickey, of the Lakes and Ponds Association of Western Massachusetts, said the state should consider closing all boat ramps, particularly those in Massachusetts, until a plan to stop the spread can be developed. Doing so would alert boaters to the seriousness of the threat and the need to properly cleanse vessels, including kayaks.

"The Quabbin is pretty close to our last wilderness in Massachusetts and I think we should keep it that way,’’ said Paul Godfrey, a member of the Friends of Quabbin Inc., a nonprofit group. ‘‘Zebra mussels are an incredible threat to that place. They tend to clog up pipes, and there are a lot of them — all the way to Boston.’’

Milton Valencia can be reached at
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

More links on Quabbin, be sure to check out the last link for tremendous close up photos of eagles, cormorants, mergansers and other birds common here on Manchaug Pond:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Were You There July 7th? Take a look!

Click on to the link above, scroll down to the Manchaug Dam and watch for yourself!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last Thursday's Mtg. - Good Going MPA!

Not that last Tuesday wasn't enough excitement for Manchaug Pond, Thursday morning provided another meeting for the MPA. Our 1st Vice President/Stormwater Grant Coordinator met with CEI, the engineering/environmental firm concerning the s.319 stormwater grant. We just completed our second year of a 3 year grant. Our Grant Coordinator is the taskmaster - keeps us hopping, turning us now and again from the water level/dam issue back to water quality, has us keeping detailed volunteer logs, gets the reporting in on time to DEP, and makes sure we don't go over budget... to name a few of her duties!

Well, Thursday's assessment of our project is that we are in great shape!

We are under budget, and the site work in Douglas and Sutton is now completed with the exception of the rain garden at the Public Access Boat Ramp. And all the rain provides the added bonus of actually allowing us to see right away how the structures will handle heavy rains and lots of runoff!

The rain garden site is all prepared with just some design work and planting to be done. The center strip in the photo below - where no grass is growing - will be planted with native species which can handle the moisture and work to filter pollutants.

Our Grant Coordinator is working with the New England Wildflower Society and has received input from the Sutton Conservation Commissioners as to the different plants they would like to see incorporated in the design.

Year three, will be used to finish up with most of our focus on the educational component of the project targeting horseowners and residents in the watershed.

In the first two years of the grant, the MPA has held spring and fall clean up events, workshops on Composting and Lawn and Landscape Care as well as a Mass Aggie Horsekeeping Seminar for the many livestock/horse owners in the watershed. The MPA has also provided an educational display at a number of events from the clean-ups, to Waters Farm Days, to our educational programs, to the January conference of the Mass Congress of Lake and Pond Associations. The exhibit brings the latest research and technology in easy to read form for you to use in your home landscape!

This is made possible by a s.319 DEP storm water grant and with matching volunteer time by the MPA, and towns of Douglas and Sutton.


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