21 days: Dam Owner Risk vs. Wetlands Protection Act

Weds, March 4th another Public Hearing was held at the Sutton Conservation Commission for Manchaug Reservoir Corp’s newly revised Notice of Intent Operation and Maintenance Plan for the Manchaug Pond dam and reservoir.

Two attorneys represented Interface Fabrics – one from the Boston law firm and the other from Interface’s Atlanta, Georgia corporate headquarters.

Additionally, the attorneys presented 2 more documents: 1. a memo from their engineering firm Stantec addressing the MPA’s September testimony and 2. a Stantec memo looking at Manchaug Pond as a Great Pond. (Interface did not give the MPA a copy so I can’t give you details yet.)

Bottom line: The Sutton Conservation Commission (SCC) voted to continue the hearing for the purpose of having a peer review of the revised Notice of Intent. SCC stated they understood MRC %Interface’s position with dam safety but needed “reasonable time to review” the revised NOI and assess the extent of the alternations to the resource. SCC has called for a peer review since last fall.
MRC denied permission/did not consent to the peer review.
SCC has 21 days to respond/rule.

In the meantime Interface is to comply with the DEP order of May 2008 to put in the flashboards. SCC also gave MRC, a list of requests which I believe I heard included having the flashboards in by April 1.

MRC, during the course of the meeting, explained that three different engineering firms recommended they operate at three different levels because of the Office of Dam Safety’s new reporting form. Depending on which report you look at the level goes from 519 to 517 to 515.4. (And I might add, not to mention historical levels above 519.) they sited Hurricane “Katrina shows us that the dam was operated as unsafe.” “…simply cannot and will not operate … we cannot operate the dam at a risk.”

For those village residents Manchaug Reservoir Corp. named during the meeting who they are protecting, the condition of the dam is not at issue. The dam is well maintained and in good condition. Over the years, Interface has been an attentive dam owner, noteworthy are the major repairs made to the low level gate in 2006 and the yearly mowing, trimming and patch work completed last fall. Again the condition of the dam is not at issue in this case.