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.
What’s happening at the pond!
~ May 15th: Weekend rainfall and watershed runoff has put Manchaug Pond and Stevens Pond over the “full” mark. Manchaug Pond serves as a reservoir capturing rain and run-off to prevent flooding downstream and for use through the drier months. Today the dam low-level gate was opened more and high water is flowing nicely over the flashboards through the spillway. The dam caretaker is monitoring the level closely for both ponds.
~ May: Lake is at full+, ready for the season with shoreline, coves and wetlands renewed.
~ April 5th: Waterlevel is quickly rising with continued rainfall, snowmelt and runoff from the watershed. The channel wall is now submerged. Docks are in water ready for boats!
~ March 26th: Remainder of the ice is gone, fully opening the public access boat ramp to boaters.
~ 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.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
- Who owns the Manchaug Pond Dam? The Town of Sutton owns the dam while the Manchaug Pond Foundation holds the deed to the flow-rights of Douglas and Sutton.
- Who maintains the dam? The dam owner maintains as needed.
- Will another flashboard be added to the dam spillway? No, the current number of flashboards are for normal operation and to get us to “full.”
- Who decides if the gate is open or closed? The dam caretaker makes that determination with input from the Manchaug Pond Foundation. Many variables are considered from the weather forecast, to the presence/absence of snow cover in the watershed and ice cover on the lake, to runoff and saturated soils or lack of in the surrounding watershed. Whatever the situation, you have a voice as the Manchaug Pond Foundation who works closely with the town. Waterlevel issues affect public safety, the health of the lake ecosystem, needs of shoreline properties, public access and recreation, flood prevention, drinking water wells and septic systems, control of invasive aquatic species, and more.
- Is the dam safe? The dam undergoes regular inspections both informal as part of its daily operation and formal as part of the requirements of the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety.
- Who can I contact with question or concerns? Ask it here! We field issues and concerns of the property owners and user community serving as the liaison with local and state regulating agencies.
Invasive Species Control:
Since 1990, the Manchaug Pond Foundation and its parent organization, the Manchaug Pond Association, has worked with the dam owner to employ lake-level drawdown as the best option for controlling aquatic invasive species. Lycott Environmental’s Lee Lyman, a pioneer in the management of ecological systems, first recommended tweeking the timing of our annual drawdown to both protect native species and to control unwated invasives. Providing the weather conditions are conducive, the water level is 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 to allow certain aquatic organisms such as fresh-water mussels, crayfish, turtles and amphibians to migrate to deeper portions of the water body to overwinter and brought back in March and April.
Drawdown allow for the desiccation, freezing, and physical disruption of plants, roots, and seed beds around the shoreline. In addition to reducing the growth of non-native weeds such as Fanwort, Manchaug Pond Foundation notes successful control/elimination of Asian Clam at the state public access boat ramp. A look at Manchaug Pond’s bathymetry shows how lake-level drawdown can be an effective method for aiding in the management of aquatic vegetation in the shallow areas of lakes and ponds.
For more detailed information on lake-level drawdown.
While the waters of Manchaug Pond Reservoir are no longer needed in the manufacturing processes of downstream 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 and Commonwealth.
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.
Latitude 42.09048 N Longitude 71.76630 W
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. Two flashboards were significantly damaged by a beaver in 2015.
2006 repairs to the low-level gate.