Still Painting… the Flashboards and the Gentleman’s Agreement

Here’s the Manchaug Pond Dam as it looked Friday. Looks good doesn’t it! That’s the “spillway.” The light gray of the new mortar provides good contrast against the blue lake, not to mention the starkness of the trees.

Dam owner Interface Global/Guilford of Maine/Manchaug Reservoir Corp tells us in the August, 2008 Sutton NOI (Notice of Intent) that the dam “is a composite rubble masonry and earth-filled structure approximately 330 feet long and 28 feet high. The upstream face is of stepped rubble masonry construction. Originally built in 1854, the dam was reconstructed in 1960 when earthfill at a slope of 2 to 1 was added to cover the downstream surface of the dam. There are two outlet control devices: a spillway and a low level outlet. The spill way, a concrete box culvert, 9.35 feet high has a fixed crest width of 10.0 feet at elevation 515.90. The crest has slots to accommodate 2.70 foot high flashboards. The low level outlet, located near the right abutment, is equipped with a mechanical hand-operated gate which has an opening 2 feet by 2 feet.” (see page 10 of Operations Plan for Low Flow Augmentation Program, Mumford River, East Douglas, Mass.)

Further, on pg 13: “Starting in February, there should be minimal or no releases from the reservoirs while still maintaining the 15 CFS minimum flow in the river at East Douglas. … installation of flashboards at this dam… in early April.” That’s the scenario painted for over half a century with the flashboards going in in March. 2007 the former caretaker reported them going in March 11th (Note: a 16cfs requirement now for downstream and Manchaug Pond is never closed as there is always a flow from the updated 2006 low-level gate providing a riffle for downstream aquatic life)

On March 4th of this year, the MPA was told that the new caretaker would have to take the lake down to below the crest level, in order to get the flashboards in properly and safely.

Okkaay. So if we go with that theory…. This month the lake has been taken down. Friday’s photos show the lake is sufficiently BELOW the spillway crest with no flow through the spillway culvert box. The flashboards can now be installed safely and efficiently. April 1 is Wednesday and with April showers expected, the lake can be filled to historic levels.

Now for those of you with a good memory…. In May of 2008, Interface met with DEP on this whole flashboards issue and was told to get them in. period. Interface wrote a letter explaining their take on the meeting, and the next week complied. With flashboards dropped in, not too long after, they finally closed the low-level gate was closed. Back in the day, my Father would have called this a “Gentlemen’s Agreement.” Granted the dam owner was not too keen on the deal and DEP was pressing hard but… but there was an agreement and compliance.

The agreement with DEP gets the flashboards in – this year by April 1, capturing the spring rains, to prevent further damage to the ecosystem around the lake and to prevent flooding downstream. (Note: this weekend’s height of the pool at the falls in the village near the old library. Also note: last year’s fishkill was above this spillway crest level and although is was a very wet spring and summer, Manchaug never filled with the mid-May compliance.)

Let Weds’ picture be painted by gentlemen working for an environmentally sensitive corporation who choose to comply with the DEP agreement AND the Order of the Sutton Conservation Commissions to uphold the Wetland Protections Act.

Comments 7

  1. I would like to thank the writer for a more better explaination. I didn’t mean to be rude or unprofessional with my last comments but I know many people that have asked me, “what is going on with the lake”? I was spun around in circles,to really know whats going on. But with this latest Gentelmans article, we all have a better understanding and drive to try and make the people who are responsible for the levels of the lake understand how important their role is with bringing back the enviroment of the lake.
    We all know how hard the MPA board members has been working and believe me, we all appreciate what you have done for the people of Manchaug Lake too!
    Thank You so much! Very Concerned

  2. Dear Very Concerned, You are most welcome and no offense taken by your comments. We welcome your involvement. We have been addressing the dam since 2006 and it continues to be a very time consuming, frustrating and extremely sad situation.

    Also as Corresponding Secretary I am the first to say we have not done enough mailings to the membership, not enough newsletters. Our spring social and annual meeting offer tremendous updates for the membership and a forum for the President and the rest of the Board of Directors to obtain direction and the marching orders. The blog offers an informal, quick method of communicating but not all our members are on the net and not all info can be shared here. so the lack of mailings can leave those who don’t or can’t attend wondering. Also, we have covered so much territory in our effort and the situation can change weekly as we make new contacts and new problems arise….. so please keep asking and keep pushing! 🙂

    We’re all volunteers united in a worthy cause.

  3. There are many stakeholders here. What can us folks that don’t own property but do rent campsites around the lake do to help? Believe me I’d love to own property but that is not realistic at this time!

    By the way…..the blog and the pictures are a great service. You are engaging more people than you know in the events that happen at Manchaug.

  4. Thank you Richard. There is much at stake. Besides the recreation you campers enjoy, there’s the positive effect from your tourism dollars to area resturants, stores, churches, events, businesses and the effect on the family-owned business where you camp.

    One camper from out of state told me from June through August she did all her grocery shopping, bought all her daughters back to school clothes and supplies, supported the local church not to mention the pizza place, coffee shop, gas station, etc.

    The summer community from the 3 campgrounds on the lake and the one at the inlet make a huge contribution to this suburban area.
    The Manchaug Pond case is currently before the Douglas Conservation Commission with the public hearing June 1st. In the meantime you can submit letters of concern to the Douglas Conservation Commission, 26 Depot Road, Douglas, MA 01516. Sutton Con.Com. is also still taking information as to any negative impacts the waterlevel is having. Sutton Conservation Commission, 4 Uxbridge Road, Sutton, MA 01590.
    Thank you for join us!

  5. It sounds as if the boards will not be in as scheduled;as a camper and paying $7000 for a waterfront site (water what water) I must say I’m very disappointed that this issue has not been resolved; I will not be returning this year and the owners of the campgounds have a lot to loose as well as the local business/churches/the town etc; it was a good run while it lasted

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