The waterlevel of Manchaug Pond is of utmost importance to the health of this lake ecosystem, the quality of life for year-round and seasonal residents and tourists, the safety of property and residences along the shoreline and downstream, and the maintenance of water in-lake and downstream flow feeding dependent fisheries, drinking water sources, water-dependent businesses. Key to maintaining the proper waterlevel is the Manchaug Pond Dam which is now owned, operated, and maintained by the Town of Sutton.
Highlights from the Caretaker
~ March 15th: Low-level gate is open in order to prevent dock damage as cold temperatures cause ice to form along the shoreline. The significant snow cover in the watershed from this week’s storm is good for the lake as the spring snow melt will be captured to increase the waterlevel of the reservoir for the drier summer season.
~ March 1st: Flashboards in, ice out, ready for refill.
~ October 14th: Winter drawdown begins.
~ May: With a forecast of a week of rain, the waterlevel is at the top of the flashboards with the low-level gate opened to prevent flooding.
~March 14th: End drawdown to begin filling the reservoir. Waterlevel is about 10 days ahead of last year at this point.
~ February 29th: New flashboards installed made of thick, red oak. Flashboards significantly damaged by a beaver last year.
Stince 1990, The Manchaug Pond Foundation and its parent organization, the Manchaug Pond Association, continues to work with the dam owner to employ lake-level drawdown was the best option for controlling aquatic invasive species. Lycott Environmental recommended to the Lee Lyman, was a pioneer in the management of ecological systems developing a specific methodology for the successful implementation of lake-level drawdown in many water bodies. Providing the weather conditions are conducive, it is recommended that the water level be drawn down during the middle of September and no later than early October and at a rate of approximately one to two inches per day to minimize impacts to downstream environments and allow certain aquatic organisms such as fresh water mussels, crayfish, turtles and amphibians to migrate to deeper portions of the water body to overwinter.
Drawdown allow for the desiccation, freezing, and physical disruption of plants, roots, and seed beds. Lake-level drawdown may be an effective method for aiding in the management of aquatic vegetation in the shallow areas of lakes and ponds. Detailed data on the water body’s hydrology and morphology, including bathymetry, is necessary to determine the potential success of this management technique.
For more detailed information on lake-level drawdown.
While the waters of Manchaug Pond Reservoir are no longer needed to wash the cloth of any textile mills, today the importance of the 380 acre lake and its dam are no less important and are found to be farther reaching:
- offering continual flow in the Mumford River supporting aquatic species;
- supplying storage to address flooding concerns on-lake and downstream;
- enhancing fisheries and wetlands;
- ensuring connectivity with a coldwater fishery;
- allowing year-round recreational opportunities benefiting tourism;
- and providing higher quality of life in this corner of the Blackstone Valley.
The Manchaug Pond Dam stretches 330 feet long, 28 feet high, and 36 feet wide with Torrey Road at its crest and sits in the town of Sutton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Originally constructed in 1836 by downstream textile mill owners, its primary purpose was to impound the pond creating a reservoir to provide the mills with a continuous flow through the year. In 1960, extensive improvements were made which included widening and raising the dam crest, constructing the downstream earthen embankment, replacing the overflow spillway, expanding the low-level outlet and accommodating Torrey Road. In 2006 the low-level gate was replaced with steel construction and the operator’s platform renovated. Additionally in 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2013, repairs were made to the spillway box culvert. Annual maintenance includes cutting of the grass-covered earthen embankment and re-pointing with concrete the upstream stepped-faced stone-masonry wall.
The overflow spillway or box culvert was constructed in 1960 when extensive improvement were made to the dam.
2016: On February, 26th, new flashboards installed made of thick, red oak. Flashboards significantly damaged by a beaver in 2015.
2006 repairs to the low-level gate.