“…were planned well…. Officials work to protect the watersheds”

Those were headlines in yesterday’s Telegram & Gazette. Not about Manchaug Pond….

…about the watersheds of Quabbin, Ware River, Wachusett Reservoir and Sudbury Reservoir. Credited is “the foresight of engineers at the turn of the century and those who have worked tirelessly since to protect the reservoirs and the rivers and streams that feed them, providing natural filtration – the watershed.” Forsight. Watershed.

Yes, they are protecting a water supply which Manchaug is not. But did you know that Manchaug Pond is fed by runoff from the watershed – not springs. Remember when Lycott Environmental conducted our weed survey and gave us that fact at an MPA Annual Meeting. And more recently Lycott did testing up in the watershed… High bacteria counts in one very unpopulated cove… numbers coming from the watershed. That is why we have an educational component to the NonPoint Source Pollution Project – so people in the watershed can learn how to do things, around their lawn and landscape and in the care for their animals, with Manchaug Pond in mind.

The property owners around the lake and in the watershed need to continue working to educate neighbors, and town officials as to the importance preserving Manchaug Pond. MPA efforts to form a watershed district would only strengthen current effort. It would give us the tools we currently don’t have in administering the grant and in seeking new funding sources. Our DEP NPS pollution grant addresses only 7 (5 in Sutton, 2 in Douglas) of 27 sites which bring unsafe runoff directly into the lake and directly promote weed growth and poor water quality. All 27 sites need to be addressed. We need to have foresight now and address all pollution around Manchaug Pond.

This week I received an email from the chairman of the prudential committee of a lake district working to preserve a 300+ acrea “Great Pond” in another part of Massachusetts. His story sounded similar to ours… that local conservation districts and environmental groups, the towns and the state were not interested in getting involved with the lake… “when the water rights and dam were own by a paper company that was closing it’s doors. The proprietors around the pond decided to form a district.” That was in 1994. And yes, the dam seems to be the issue which gets our attention, gets us all thinking, studying, and acting for the benefit of the lake. The water level remains a big issue for us. Our dam is still up for sale with future ownership a question. It was announced at the last Douglas selectman’s meeting that Guilford stated they are going to “minimize their liability”.

A lake district would definitely put the people around the lake in a position to take control of their own destiny – whether it be issues with the level of the water, the quality of the water, or the protection of the wildlife habitats and the watershed which feeds the pond. A lake district is a good move. A strong move. It takes the political boundaries and town personalities out of Manchaug Pond and puts the lake first. It gives the people of the lake a voice they don’t have with town government; it gives the people of the lake 21st century tools to act and be protected. It puts us in a good position.