Telegram Reports on Secretary’s Decision & Dam Ownership

On July 31st, we reported that Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles released the decision on the dam owner’s proposal to breach the Manchaug Pond dam thereby reducing the lake from 380 acres to 201 as “the proponent states in the ENF that, because the dam no longer serves its original purpose, it wished “to divest itself of any and all responsibility and liability for the ownership and operation of the dam.” Read proposal for yourself – the link is to the right of this post under “For More Information.” It will take you to the town link for the complete document Environmental Notification Form (ENF) #14435. or go to the state MEPA website:

Today the Worcester Telegram further reports on Secretary Bowles decision, not his requirement that the dam owner prepare a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the scope of their project, changes and loss which would occur if allowed, and mitigation and alternatives but a bold and innovative solution to the dam owner’s problem. He states that the proponent (dam owner) “consider the collective costs it will be required to spend on the environmental impacts and including the resolution of any appeals that are taken. I ask that the proponent consider placing this money into an escrow fund for the maintenance and operation of the existing dam. This escrow fund could provide encouragement to a local municipality or nonprofit organization that may consider taking on the responsibility of maintaining and operating the Manchaug Pond Dam while allowing the proponent to divest itself of ownership and operation of the dam.”

Further, the article interviews the Sutton Town Administrator James Smith, the dam owner’s spokesman Wendy Porter, Douglas Selectman John Bombara, also of Whitin Reservoir Watershed District, and Selectman Scott Medeiros. Ms. Porter is reported in the Telegram as having four parties interested in the ownership of the dam with no “boundaries on what an offer should or should not contain.” The article goes on to quote, “I am pleased that three entities have come forward and expressed interest in assuming ownership of the dam. We are optimistic that there will be an owner.”

Back lakeside, yesterday found a gentleman approaching shoreline property owners asking many questions about the dam, the waterlevel, owner liability and the mood of lake front property owners, and if any lawsuits were pending. He left the impression he wanted to do “the right thing,” generate electricity to fund the upkeep of the dam, and secure a tax write-off for his company. Talk is he’s looking at receiving the dam as part of a package with a piece of land he is acquiring near the mill.

Here’s the link to the Worcester Telegram article:

Enjoy the read and the rumor. The lake is quiet with the gray skies of impending rain.

Comments 2

  1. Does anyone remember the days of when Whitin Machine corp(50’s & 60’s) was running the two impoundments? Water levels would vary greatly depending on mill needs and mother nature. Be careful of the “use the pond for power generation” as this will put greater pressure on water level,especially when they will really only have one impoundment to work with, as now all that Whitin has to flow is the minimum requirement. I really do not think you will get Whitin to increase water flows above those minimums during the summer season. After all why do you think those folks belled up to the bar and bought the res. I am sure that one of the driving reasons was to insure summer water
    levels. Remember anyone who buys this will have a reason for that purchase and it may not coincide with that of the abbutting landowners.

  2. Dear Reader,

    Over the past few years, the MPA Board of Directors has fully discussed the points you raise – many times.

    The 50’s & 60’s were very different times than our 21st century. Life was far simpler and Manchaug Pond and the two towns were rural areas. Manchaug saw many sailboats, canoes and rowboats. Today is the day of large motorboats and high use by boaters and clubs from the three states.

    Certainly, control of the dam and any use of the water will always be of concern to the MPA. Let us hope a favorable resolution is in the near future for the MPA and Manchaug Pond.

    Thanks for the concern. Point well taken.

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