Saturday, February 27, 2010

DAMS & Boston Herald's Look at Massachusetts Cuts

Bay State dams in deep water
Gov. Deval Patrick plans to drain $400G in funding
By Marie Szaniszlo
Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thousands of Bay State dams - one of which overflowed yesterday and sent townspeople scurrying from their homes - could soon be left to hold back floodwaters with little oversight as the governor plans to cut $400,000 from the state Office of Dam Safety.

Wendy Fox, spokeswoman for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, confirmed the $427,000 budget for the office is being decimated through Gov. Deval Patrick’s midyear cuts.

She said the plan is to focus on the worst dams with the $27,000 left in the budget while letting most of the 2,900 other dams go unchecked. She added DCR will dip into capital funds to help.

“This agency is still able to address anything involving public safety,” Fox said. “What we lose is the ability to take care of situations that are less critical.”

Yet one dam watchdog disagrees.

“Dams across the state are living on borrowed time, and many of our communities are at risk,” said Brian Graber, Northeast regional director of river restoration for American Rivers, a not-for-profit that has successfully lobbied for the closing of eight Bay State dams over the past nine years.

Yesterday, the state declared a dam safety emergency after the 300-year-old Forge Pond Dam in Freetown began leaking under the weight of this week’s rains and the swell of the Assonet River, forcing the evacuation Thursday night of about a dozen homes downstream.

The department plans to spend $300,000 to breach the dam, one of of five that have received the state’s two worst ratings of “unsafe” and “high-hazard.”

The state’s other dangerous dams are the Monument Dam in Freetown, Pecks Lower Pond and Bel Air dams in Pittsfield and Morey’s Bridge Dam in Taunton.

Patrick has moved to cut the budget for the Office of Dam Safety as tax revenues have tanked.

State Sen. Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, said funding is only partly to blame. Most of the state’s dams, like the Forge Pond Dam in Freetown, are privately owned and the state needs to be “much more aggressive” about going after owners who abandon them, he said.

“We’ve called for these issues to be dealt with several times,” said Pacheco, who released a report in May 2006 that found state officials had failed to inspect nearly half of all of Massachusetts dams because of bureaucratic foot-dragging and underfunding.

“It certainly hasn’t been quick enough for my liking,” he told the Herald.

And with more precipitation expected to follow the rain and gusts of up to 60 miles per hour that left about 100,000 Bay State residents without power by yesterday morning, the problems could become more urgent.

There is a 70 percent chance of snow showers through this morning turning to rain as temperatures climb, said William Babcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Tomorrow and Monday are expected to be cloudy with a chance of showers, Babcock said. Tuesday could bring a break, only to be followed by another potential storm by midweek, he said.

* + State dams and their safety ratings

Hillary Chabot contributed to this report.

Check out the Herald has a link to a pdf. list of Massachusetts Dams, their ownership and conditions

Friday, February 26, 2010

Check your shoreline...

You may want to give your shoreline/beach a check as the water has risen considerably putting snowmobiles and the like in a bit of water.

Also look to the skies as an adult eagle was reported flying around this afternoon.

Its Snowing! and Swans are Visiting.

The water has come up with yesterday's rain. This morning it is snowing! These pictures just in from the channel.

A reader from the northern end of the lake writes:


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Great Backyard Bird Count Tomorrow!

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 at West Hill Dam Park, 518 East Hartford Ave. Park Ranger Viola Bramel is gathering data to enter in the Cornell University annual Backyard Bird Count. Participants should dress for the weather and be prepared to hike.

When the black and white species pictured is not in the tree, we commonly see dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, titmouse, cardinals, nuthatches, robins, blue jays, and one little wren my daughter calls the "chipmunk bird" feeding at the suet and seed feeders. A thistle feeder was put up a week ago but no one is interested yet.

A call came in a week ago about a suet feeder being ripped from its post and carried off over on the Douglas woods side of the lake. With raccoons commonly seen over there, they are likely the culprit. The caller was concerned about bears. While a bear was spotted some years ago on the Manchaug Pond shoreline at a bird feeder, we still have a month or so before we have to worry about their spring appearance. I'll let you know when MassWildlife sends out their email to take the feeders in.

Who is at your feeder?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sorry, some comments I just can't answer....

I have received a few of these comments within the last month.

單存 has left a new comment on your post "A Few Photos from the Weekend":


Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by 單存 to Preserving MANCHAUG POND! at February 18, 2010 1:01 AM

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From the Heart of Manchaug Pond...

... Happy Valentine's Day!

Thank you to the Board member for sending in today's photo!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Another Dam in the News - Prindle Lake Dam

Prindle Lake and dam in Charlton, Massachusetts was not only the topic of conversation and questions at this January's COLAP conference but appeared in Saturday's Worcester Telegram.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Legislation to help save lake
New law lets town acquire Prindle dam


CHARLTON — Special state legislation permitting the town to save Prindle Lake by acquiring and repairing its dam has been signed into law by Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

The new law authorizes the town to acquire dams within its boundaries, make improvements to the dams and assess betterments to fund repairs.

“The town of Charlton and the lakefront property owners looked to me to file a bill and I delivered a resolution to them as quickly as possible,” state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, said in an announcement Thursday.

The lake, manmade more than 100 years ago to power a mill on Cady Brook, is used recreationally by the public, including about 85 shore property owners.

When the dam failed an inspection in 2006, the state Office of Dam Safety ordered owner Santos Irrevocable Trust to repair or breach it by November 2009, or face a fine of up to $500 a day.

With an estimated cost of $325,000 for repair and $162,000 to breach, Santos Trust decided to breach, which would drain the lake down to a marsh.

Prindle Lake residents took the matter to the Board of Selectmen.

Mary Whitehouse Santos is one of three trustees of the roughly 500 acres that includes 30 percent of the lakefront and the dam. Fellow trustees are her ex-husband, John G. Santos, and a third party appointed by the court.

In a meeting attended by more than 100 residents last April, Ms. Whitehouse Santos said the trust wishes to forgo future cost and liability by dismantling the dam or conveying it to the town for $1.

Regarding the cost to repair, selectmen agreed to pursue special legislation to assess betterments to residents who benefit from the lake if Santos Trust would contribute the $162,000 that would have been spent to breach.

A loose agreement was struck.

Town Administrator Robin L. Craver said yesterday that the special legislation is a first step and no decisions have been made regarding the dam repair or betterments. A meeting will be set with Santos Trust regarding assuming ownership.

Prindle Lake Association Director Serafino DeFranco said yesterday, “We’re certainly pleased that the bill was enacted, as it was a required step in the process of repairing the dam. We will move forward with the dam owners and the town and try to reach some sort of agreement on how to proceed.”

Here's an initial article from March 2009:


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