Is Our Dam Safe? YES!

I had an email today asking whether or not our Manchaug Dam is safe. There is talk around that it is not and with this rain, warmer temperatures, and flooding in the forecast lets look at the facts based on the reports held by the state Office of Dam Safety.

Without doubt, the dam is in GOOD CONDITION and continues to be inspected daily and maintained regularly and as needed by the owner, Interface Fabrics Group, and under state requirements. It has been inspected within the last six months by a professional engineer registered with the Commonwealth and by the Office of Dam Safety. Official engineers and inspectors, as well as the MPA president, were on site when repairs were made to the low-level outlet gate in Sept. 2006.

MPA holds all dam safety reports on record with the state which reports “the dam has performed satisfactorily for nearly 170 years, and no significant deficiencies were observed.” All maintainence and recommendations are listed from bolts replaced to brush cut to masonary work performed. The reports also give photos, engineer’s plans/drawings and details from reservoir size to the surficial geology of the area, faulting and seismicity of the area and bedrock. Details, details, details. The stack of reports are 4 inches high and have been read by the MPA President and Corresponding Secretary with no surprises found.

Our “dam has been classified as a large, high-hazard dam under DEM (now Department of Conservation and Recreation or DCR) guidelines by virtue of the height of the dam and reservoir storage.” So all dams the size of Manchaug’s and because it holds back more that 1,000 acre-feet are listed as high-hazard. This classification requires inspection every two years by a professional engineer.

Hope this puts your worries to rest! A memo from Dam Safety states,”It is the dam owners decision to operate the dam as he/she desires, as long as operation is conducted safely in compliance with dam safety laws and any other applicable local, state or federal regulations.” There is alot of space there for the owner to flood us, dry dock us and let the dam get rundown! I remember under the previous owner about 24 years ago, the lake was so high we took the boat across the lake to visit my sister-in-law driving right over her lawn in 3 feet of water right up to the top of the deck. My brother in law was in the doorway yelling, “Don’t make waves!!” We thank Interface caretaker for keeping the Weather Channel on 24/7, and for Interface for getting permission from the state to delay drawdown last summer until after Labor Day so we could enjoy the lake and we thank Interface for making maintenance a priority!

Rest easy.