On Tuesday, October 11th, the annual lake-level drawdown will begin. Campers and shoreline property owners who have boats docked on Manchaug Pond should be aware that the lake will probably lose an estimated an inch or more per day after it is opened. If the forecast should see hurricane Matthew coming up the coast toward Massachusetts, the dam will be opened earlier. As in past years, the drawdown will not impact access through the state public access boat ramp.
As the leaves assume their autumn hues, the Town of Sutton, reports “we are right in line with where we want to be.” In spite of a summer of severe drought conditions in Worcester County, the town has done a phenomenal job regulating Manchaug Pond’s waterlevel. This has resulted in a very active camping and boating season as well as healthy fisheries and wetland habitats which saw no fish-kills, multiple weekly fishing tournaments, and fishermen coming from across the tri-state area to enjoy Manchaug explaining that other lakes in their home area were significantly low.
The drawdown serves Manchaug’s role as a reservoir having a sizeable storage capacity. The lake is taken down in the fall creating sufficient storage for spring freshet. (The term freshet is most commonly used to describe a spring thaw resulting from snow and ice melt in rivers located in the northern latitudes of North America.* Wikipedia) This is key to flood control during the fall, winter and spring months and to healthy levels and flows during the drier summer months. And added benefit of the lower winter waterlevel is the control of a number of aquatic weeds around the outer edge of the lake where docks and swimming occurs. The Lake Pocket Book by Philips, Kelly, Taggart and Reeder reports drawdown can result in a decrease in aquatic plants including bladderwort, fanwort, milfoil, coontail and water lily.
Once the water-level is down, the dam will be assessed by the town. Some small repairs may be needed, but right now nothing major is planned or expected.
UPDATE: With Hurricane Matthew going out to sea before reaching the Northeast, it did not require the opening of the low-level gate earlier than planned and actually brought the lake up a few inches. Winter drawdown began Friday, October 14th.