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.