Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sutton Town Warrant of Interest to Manchaug Pond

Yesterday gray skies filled the day with a bit of rain here and there. Minutes ago a rain shower brought a bit of hail and now the sun is shining.

Of interest to Manchaug Pond are a few items on the Sutton town meeting warrant: Article 12 is the annual appropriation for the management of the state public access ramp and Article 14 and 15 allow for the small installation of hydroelectric by special permit of the Planning Board.

Click the link or post title to bring you to the town website and then click to see the entire warrant to read it for yourself.

The members of the Manchaug Pond Association were present at the Planning Board public hearing when the hydroelectric power article was discussed. Personally, I found it very interesting that not a dam owner or potential dam buyer was in attendance and further I have heard word on the street that this article was brought by a potential dam owner, but in reality the Planning Board opened the hearing explaining that the Board was bringing the article for town consideration at the urging of the Town Administrator to address concerns at Manchaug Pond. Sutton has close to 20 dams within it's boundaries which would all fall under the bylaw.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One of Manchaug Pond's Pileated Woodpecker

You've heard them around Manchaug Pond calling to each other!
Now thanks to a member who sent these photos in, taken this morning, you get to see this large woodpecker up close.  Click the links to hear their calls and drumming.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Vernal Pool in the Manchaug Pond Watershed

There is the vernal pool ahead of us...

... a bit mystical ... seeming out of place, away from the lake, a distance into the oak/hickory forest.

Turn over a log to reveal... one of the species of salamanders which come each season to lay their eggs here... the rest of the year living within a mile or two of this pool which will be dry by summer.

My sincerest thanks to the property owner and my guides.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flow Reduced. Rule Curve Being Followed to Maintain Waterlevel

Yesterday we see the flow leaving Manchaug Pond has been greatly reduced. The MPA understands that the dam continues to be owned and controlled by the Douglas mill owner - nothing has changed.

MassDEP and Sutton Conservation Commission continue to monitor and regulate the flow for downstream and the lake area itself.

And at a minimum flashboards needed to go in by April 1 (which they did, :)) and the waterlevel outlined in the 1930 rule curve is to be followed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MPA Meets with Engineers

This morning from 9:30 to 12:30pm, 2 engineers visited the roadsides of Manchaug Pond checking the catchbasins, gabion dams, plunge pools, pervious pavers and other structures constructed last year under the S 319 DEP stormwater grant project for Manchaug Pond.

The engineers' goal today was two fold: first to evaluate the current structures noting improvements needed if any and secondly to identify new sites to be addressed.

Three MPA officers gave the Douglas/Sutton tour.
To take the tour yourself, view the slide show on the right.

For more information on Low Impact Development and what you can do to protect the water quality of Manchaug Pond consult our website at under Living in the Watershed or visit

On seeing this site the engineer exclaimed, "It's working!"

How can you tell? Note all the road sand and salt captured!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Windy and a Fighter Jet Fly Over

This morning it is cool and WINDY! Regardless, fisherman off the ramp are on the lake with the majority from Rhode Island.

Between 9:30 and 9:45am a number of fighter jets roared over the lake for a loud and dramatic few moments.

Oh and the flow you ask?

Kayaking? Life Jackets on Until May 15

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some Ramps Open, Some Still Closed

Today, the Webster Police Department website still reports Webster Lake as closed to boating. Thursday, a drive by the Public Access Ramp at Lake Singletary found it open, but the waterlevel was right up there so with more rain this weekend you might see the closed sign posted once again.

Here on Manchaug Pond, our ramp is open and our waterlevel is low enough to accommodate more rain. Only problem may be finding a parking space!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Before the Big Sweep!

Early last week, when the weather made us think more of summer than of the fact that spring had just recently arrived, we took a morning walk in the watershed. Before this street sweeper made its pass over the dam and along the roadside we had just walked,

we had an opportunity to read the tracks of other early morning walkers in the sand along the sides of the road.

Who do you see in the sand?

MassWildlife puts out a handy Pocket Guide to MA Animal Tracks. Just a card smaller than index card size that gives the track pattern, the tracks of 27 mammals and birds with size in inches of front and hind track noted. You might have pick up the pocket guide at an MPA meeting or if you haven't check with the MassWildlife field office on 1 Rabbit Hill Rd. Westboro.

Two weeks ago the MassWildlife van was sighted in Sutton heading south! Subscribe to their magazine - you won't be disappointed!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stevens Pond Dam Gets New Flashboards

Stevens Pond dam, downstream from Manchaug Pond, received some attention this week with the installation of new pipes and flashboards. Nice work by the Town of Sutton.

Here's the before photo taken last year for comparison.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hydropower Public Hearing Tonight

Dam Owner Monitors Waterlevel - flow reduced

Last Thursday, the question was asked by a few as to whether or not the dam caretaker continues to monitor the Manchaug dam on a daily basis - with some thinking he is there only once a week.

Well,  reports came in on Friday that YES he was indeed there and here's of photo of his truck there AGAIN THIS MORNING.  On duty as usual!  :)

So I would venture it is safe to say with the nature and seriousness of dam ownership - coupled with the owner's past record of daily monitoring and concern for safety - that our dam is getting plenty of attention.  We have also seen local and state officials in the neighborhood as well.

Looking at the flow out of Manchaug Pond....

Here is a photo of the flow on Thursday, April 8th:

And again this morning after the caretaker took his measurements and closed the low level gate down quite a bit.  Significantly reduced.  No water is coming over the flashboards.

While those who live and use Manchaug Pond clearly see the value of its water and the dam for the value of our homes, our wells, to prevent flooding, for recreation, business and tourism, etc.... perhaps downstream needs to recognize further Manchaug's contribution. Maybe it's the old term pond that brings a 21st century mind to a small body of water.  Reservoir is indeed appropriate.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Manchaug Pond: Alive and Well!

There was been a quiet giddiness on Manchaug Pond this past couple weeks as flashboards went in before April 1st, spring rains came in record amounts bringing the lake up to a nice level, and thanks to the dam owner and his caretaker the water level never reach a point where we had to worry about homes flooding or closing the ramp as have many others. Coupled with the unusually warm weather,  the lake has come alive once again!

What do we mean by "come alive"?

Yellow perch were spawning along the shore in numbers back on April 2nd. Dragging a worm off a fishing pole line brought them scooting over in droves.

Turtles were seen on logs and rocks along the shore basking in the sun near the boat ramp and

and on the opposite shore of Holbrook's. 

Coves and neighboring wetlands brought the evening sounds of spring peepers and wood frogs while herons and ducks were the sights of the day.

A few boats from the ramp enjoyed the early fishing and we could even hear the hooting and howlering of a couple of brothers enjoying the first swim of the season in water way too cold for most of us!

Water is no longer going over the flashboards, and the caretaker has taken the low level gate back a few notches so a bit less is flowing out ....  and all are looking forward to spending the weekend at camp or at our cottage on Manchaug Pond.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tonight - VERNAL POOL Night Hike at West Hill Dam LISTEN! You can hear these sounds in the woods across Holbrook's Cove! They are wood frogs and require a moist pool in the spring inwhich to lay their eggs...

Did you know there are a number of vernal pools in the Manchaug Pond watershed? and endangered species that find these areas critical?

This workshop will introduce you to vernal pools with a slide show and then a hike to see for yourself the frogs, salamanders and other creatures who live there! Don't forget your flashlight!

Vernal Pool Night Hikes - Friday April 9, from 7:30-9:30pm Salamanders and wood frogs awaken from winter's rest. They migrate during rain events to the vernal pool they hatched from to lay eggs. Join us, rain or shine, all ages, bring a flashlight, best suited about ages 6 and older.

Join us for our annual night trek, April 9, 7:30-9:30pm. We will view a brief slide show on local species and the special reproduction that occurs in vernal pools. Bring a flashlight as we are off to explore several local favorite pools to see how healthy our populations are. Allow at least two hours for this spring night hike. Meet Ranger Viola at the West Hill Dam Project Office, 518 East Hartford Avenue, Uxbridge, MA (978) 318-8417. No fees, hot chocolate and cookies for the humans who make the trek. Light rain or snow we go, heavy snow stay home. Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Be prepared to walk about a mile and dress for the weather. Junior Rangers Level-2, earn credit. Call Ranger Viola Bramel at (978) 318-8417 for details.

(photo of eggs taken here at Manchaug Pond)

Can't make it? Visit these websites!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

BOSTON GLOBE Article: State sues owners of dams seen as unsafe

State sues owners of dams seen as unsafe

Names Pittsfield, Plympton sites

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / April 6, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed suit against the private owners of two of the worst-maintained and most potentially dangerous dams in Massachusetts, asserting that they defied state orders and failed to make repairs necessary to protect local residents.

In the two lawsuits, the state alleges that owners in Pittsfield and Plympton defied state orders and failed to repair dams deemed unsafe and potentially deadly to residents.

J. Barrett Hollister, owner of the Bel Air Dam on the Housatonic River in Pittsfield, and Roger W. O’Neil Jr., owner of Dennett’s Pond Dam in Plympton, are named as defendants. Neither owner returned calls seeking comment yesterday.

The two lawsuits mark the first time the state has taken such legal action against dam owners.

“Years of inaction on behalf of these private dam owners is unacceptable and has forced the state to file these lawsuits to ensure the safety of those who live near the dams,’’ Coakley said in a statement yesterday.

A state-ordered study found in 2008 that people would probably be killed if the Bel Air Dam failed, according to court documents.

Hollister’s dam was declared unsafe in 2002 and was ruled a “high hazard’’ to residents and property in 2005. Coakley said that over much of the past decade, Hollister “repeatedly failed to comply with orders issued by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to repair the dam and address safety issues.’’

The Dennett’s Pond Dam is categorized as a “significant hazard potential’’ to people and property. In the lawsuit, the state contends that O’Neill failed to comply with a March 2007 order to repair the dam and address numerous safety concerns, forcing the state to step in and spend taxpayer money to prevent a potential catastrophe at the dam during recent storms.

Recent inspections ordered by the state have found the dam to be in a state of disrepair, according to court documents, with “significant leakage.’’

“As the recent storm has demonstrated, keeping dams in good condition is critical to public safety,’’ said Ian Bowles, secretary of energy and environmental affairs. “Dam owners who do not live up to this obligation will be held accountable.’’

The suits were filed on behalf of DCR, whose dam safety office has oversight responsibility for dams across the state. DCR commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. told the Globe last week that the safety office had referred six scofflaw dam owners to the attorney general’s office, which was the first time the state had taken that step. Each lawsuit seeks a court order for the owner to repair or breach the dam and fines to reimburse the state for any emergency repairs.

Across the state, 308 dams are classified by the state as posing a “high hazard’’ to residents or property. Of those high-hazard dams, a recent Globe review found 60 of them were in poor condition, and many of them have not been inspected since 2006. Recently, 39 dams, including both named in the lawsuits, faced significant risk of failure during the historic March rains.

“Recent heavy rains have served as a reminder of how important it is to maintain the integrity of dams throughout the Commonwealth in order to keep our communities safe and protect homes and businesses,’’ Coakley said. “Unfortunately, the state has had to step in and expend state resources several times to address safety risks at these dams, when the responsibility clearly resides with the private owners of these structures.’’

Of the 308 worrisome dams, the DCR owns 56, towns and cities own 186, and the rest are privately owned.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at

Going Door to Door Looking for a Waterfront Home

If you own a home or cottage on the water, you'll come home today to find this message on your door:

A brown pickup truck was seen going door to door around the Sutton side of Manchaug Pond.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Lake Singletary Public Access Boat Ramp Closed

In addition to Webster Lake, the public access ramp at Lake Singletary in Millbury has been closed due to high water. While the water continues to recede from walls and off lawns, it still is not low enough to keep the waves created by boats from bringing water into shoreline homes and cottages.

Boating Basic Course in SUTTON!

* Under age 18? You must take a classroom course and proctored exam.

Just down the road from Manchaug Pond, a Boating Basics Course will be held beginning later this month.

Here's the details:

WHAT: BOAT MASSACHUSETTS is state and nationally approved, concentrating on the equipment and operating guidelines needed to enjoy boating in a safe and responsible way.

WHEN: April 27, 29 May 4 & 6 with all 4 sessions required, from 6:30-9 PM.

WHERE: Sutton Fire Station #2, Manchaug Road, Manchaug/Sutton.

WHY: Classes are for adults and youth 12 years of age and older. Family participation is encouraged and has proven to be very rewarding. All graduates in the 12 through 15 year-old age group will be issued a Safety Certificate allowing them to operate a motorboat without adult supervision, as required by state law. The same is true for 16 and 17 year old youth who wish to operate a personal watercraft (jet ski, wave runner, etc.)

HOW: Pre-register with the MA Environmental Police at 508-759-0002. All classes are free of charge.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Looking for Trout? Try Lake Singletary or Wallum

Looking for trout?

Manchaug Pond is not stocked, but the following central Mass lakes were stocked the week of March 15, 2010 according to Mass Wildlife:

Brookfield - South Pond
Douglas - Wallum Lake
Hubbardston - Comet Pond
Lancaster - Fort Pond
Lunenburg - Whalom Lake
Rutland - Long Pond
Spencer - Browning Pond
Sterling - West Wauschacum Pond
Sutton - Singletary Lake
Webster - Webster Lake
Worcester - Lake Quinsigamond

"Any angler who catches a trout with a bright pink tag will receive a prize from the local cooperator in the Tags 'N Trout Program!" Check out the website:

Friday, April 02, 2010

TOMORROW! MassAggie Horsekeeping/Livestock Seminar

Join us! There is still room ... pre-register at


Mass Aggie Horse Keeping Seminar Series

DOUGLAS/SUTTON — Well-managed pastures, high quality hay, and manure management are the topics of this one day seminar aimed at area livestock owners. On Saturday, April 3, 2010 at the Sutton Town Hall, Mass Aggie in cooperation with UMass Extension will present the Horse Keeping Seminar. The Manchaug Pond Association is sponsoring the educational program through a Mass DEP Grant which looks to protect water quality within the watershed. The workshop is open to everyone and will be held at the Sutton Town Hall, 4 Uxbridge Road, from 9 AM – 12:00 noon with lunch (provided) and discussion to follow. Door prizes donated from area businesses will be given.

Seminar Agenda
9:00 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. Problems with weeds and poisonous plants also will be discussed.

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

11:15 a.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.

12:00 p.m. Lunch (provided) and Discussion

Cost: $35 per person includes lunch. To sign up or for more information contact

This event is partially funded with federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) under an s. 319 competitive nonpoint source (NPS) pollution grant for Manchaug Pond administered by the Manchaug Pond Association.
* * *

Webster Lake Closed to All Boating

The Webster Police website has posted an alert/official notice that "Webster Lake has been closed to all boating until further notice."

Lakeside Marine, formally known as Action Marine in Webster... sent out this notice. Thanks to the MPA board member for bringing it to is!

Hello customers & friends!

We wanted to send you all official notification that Webster Lake is now
CLOSED to boating. The recent rains have resulted in the lake being at
near record-high levels.

At our marina here, the ramp to gain access to our main docks is under
several inches of water. We have seen docks and dock pieces floating
around, and there are some large branches & other debris that has been
swept into the lake from the streams. Besides all that, the water is up &
over residents' lawns and washing things away. The official notice came
from the Webster Police Department, & is on their website

We will send out another notice when the lake has officially reopened.
Hopefully the warm temperatures and sunshine that are forecasted for the
next few days will help the waters recede, but the last time that
officials were forced to close the lake it took a few weeks before it
officially reopened. We'll keep you posted!

Lakeview Marine Inc.
311 Thompson Road
PO Box 459
Webster, MA 01570

Please visit our website at the following location:

Check out their webcam for a live look:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Runoff Continues to Raise Manchaug's Waterlevel

The hillsides continue to bring, in torrents, water to Manchaug Pond.

Talk on the street is of the importance of the Manchaug dam to flood control. Downstream is pictured below - earlier this week. (Thanks to the MPA Board member who sent these in!)


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