Concerning our lower than usual waterlevel on Manchaug Pond…The following is a letter dated April 23, 2008 which our MPA President received on Friday on your behalf from the Mumford River Reservoir Company and The Manchaug Reservoir Corporation the dam owner and operator:
Subject: Manchaug and Whitin Reservoir WaterLevels and Acts of Vandalism at Manchaug
Dear Mr. Schmidt:
The purpose of this letter is to update our neighbors on changes relating to water level management at Manchaug Pond and Whitin Reservoirs this spring as well as recent acts of vandalism at the manchaug Dam.
Hydro Projects North, has owned the controlling interests in the reservoir corporations which operate the dams on Manchaug Pond and Whitin Reservoirs for over twenty years. During this time, the reservoir corporations have strive to balance recreational interests, aquatic needs, and minimum water
flow needs. However, the number one priority has been, and continues to
be, the safe operation of the dams in compliance with applicable laws,
rules and regulations.
Our neighbors, who live around and enjoy the two ponds, have likely noticed that the water levels are not as high as they have been typically in the past at this time of year. This is because both dames are presentlybeign operated a lower level upon
the recommendations of the professional engineering firm that recently
completed the annual inspections of the two dams. These recommendations
were driven not by any change in condition of the dams, but rather by
guidance from the Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety that took effect
for the dams this year, requiring safe operation of the dams to
accommodate possible high rainfall events. It is very important to note
that this does not mean the dams are unsafe or are any less safe than
they have been in the past. We are told the guidance and compliance
requirements reflect the Office of Dam Safety’s latest thinking on dam
Given that our number one priority is safe operation of
the dams in accordance with applicable law, we have conformed to the
recommendations of the engineers. We also have requested a meeting with
the Office of Dam Safety to discuss the inspection results and our
engineer’s recommendations, and in that meeting we hope to determine if
a safe alternate course of action is available to us. This meeting is
tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 5.
We also feel it is very important to make all of our neighbors aware of recent vandalism at the Manchaug dam. On two occasions within the last month, unauthorized person(s) entered the fenced and locked area on the Manchaug
Dam, cut off the locks, and forced shut the low level outlet gate for
the Dam, presumably in an attempt to raise the water level in the Manchaug
Pond Reservoir to the prior year’s springtime water level. This
trespass and vandalism is a violation of the law, and as such we have
filed reports with the Town of Sutton Police Department and the Office
of Dam Safety. These acts of vandalism jeopardize the safe operation of
the dam. We feel that it is important to emphasize that these acts will
not achieve their presumed objective or raising the overall reservoir
water levels and will potentially interfere with the recreational use
of Manchaug Pond for the following reasons:
* Closing the low level outlet gate will not raise the water level in Manchaug Pond beyond its current levels. At the times of both acts of trespass, the water level in the Pond was at or just above the spillway elevation, thus closing the outlet gate only increased the water flowing over the spillway. The water level may only be raised above the spillway height by installation of flashboards. Following our engineer’s recommendation, the flashboards have not and will not be installed until safe operation of the dams has been discussed with the Office of Dam Safety. Thus, the trespasser(s) risked damaging the outlet gate, jeopardized safe operation of the dam and ultimately had no impact on the overall water levels.
* If the outlet gate is damaged due to unauthorized operation, it would likely be very costly to repair and require the water levels to be immediately lowered significantly below what they are now in accordance with ODS procedures.
* Lastly, untrained operation of the dam is very unsafe. Any untrained persons who take it upon themselves to trespass and operate the dam risk bodily injury or death, due to hydraulic forces present in the dam.
If you have any questions about the water levels or the operation of the dams, we kindly ask that you direct any inquiries to our local attorney… Mr. Cooper has established lines of communication with the Presidents of both Reservoir Associations and we urge you to wrk through those organiations, as that will result in the fastest and most efficient attention to your concerns.
If you have any information regarding the trespass and vandalism of the Manchuag Dam, please call the Town of Sutton Police Department at (508) 865-4449.
We take great pride in our stewardship of the dams and the reservoirs over the past twenty years as well as our partnership with the towns of Douglas and Sutton. While we recognize that lower water levels may be a cause of concern for some, please remember that safe operation of the dams in compliance with applicable law is the ultimate priority.
We sincerely appreciate the productive and cooperative relationship we have had with our many neighbors, and we would like to thank everyone in advance for the understanding and cooperation as we determine the safest course of action that yields optimal results for all.
Wendy Porter for the Mumford River Reservoir Company and the Manchaug Reservoir Corporation