New Article: “That Dam Issue”

THAT DAM ISSUE-
Company, officials clash over proposed pond breach

BY JOSH FARNSWORTH
Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, July 10th



Several residents and local officials from Sutton and Douglas joined state officials to voice their vehement disapproval of a plan by Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. to breach or remove the Manchaug Pond Dam at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon…

…”The only way to describe this is a breathtakingly terrible idea,” said George X Pucci of Kopelman and Paige, Sutton’s Town Counsel. “The removal of a dam makes sense when it is faulty or damaged. There are no benefits other than that Manchaug Reservoir Corp. does not want to operate it anymore.”

Rep. Jennifer Callahan (D-Sutton) accused the Manchaug Reservoir Corp. of being a bully and using “scare tactics” to strong-arm other parties to take responsibility for the up-keep and general responsibility of the pond. It is an oxymoron to think we will be restoring the pond by draining it,” she said. The state is not in the business of buying up dams and neither are the towns.”…

… “To divest themselves is vindictive,” said Pucci. “Going through with this would cripple the ability to store flood waters going into nearby Stevens Pond. It has potentially horrific consequences.” …

…Porter said lack of interest from other parties had forced the company to move forward. “We have received no offers from anyone on taking ownership of the dam,” she said. “No one has even put a price tag on it.”

Porter said the company has written proof that a request to sit down with Sutton was made in 2004 prior to Smith’s time as administrator. …

…”The dam no longer serves the purpose with the intent for why it was built,”
said Porter. “We believe doing this would ultimately result in a net benefit impact.”

… “If the dam was to be removed, property values would decline and the rest of the
residents in Sutton and Douglas will feel the impact,” said Sutton Board of Assessors
Chair Robert Nunnemacher. “It will not be a huge impact, but those people will still
have to pick up that difference.” …

…Much the opponents’ frustration centered on communication. Opponents scalded the Manchaug Pond Reservoir Corp. for failure to notify Sutton on the issues prior to the town receiving the breach notice last month. Town Manager James Smith argued with Porter that in his two years as town administrator he had never been contacted about negotiations with the town on breaching or removing the dam. ..

… A representative from MassDEP said the organization will be involved in the permitting end of the project and will comment on the matter soon.

David Schmidt, President of the Manchaug Pond Association told the meeting attendees that…”Manchaug Pond is needed now more than ever.”….

Click title of post to link to Millbury-Sutton Chronicle for the entire, detailed article.

Comments 2

  1. The water level is coming down is the rule curve being followed? If so, will the level be adequate for the summer months? should residents around the pond take any action to help the MPA. Thank you for keeping us posted.

  2. Yes, the water level is coming down as the dam owner is following the 1930 Rule Curve NOT the ACTUAL Historic Levels which peak in spring, plateau all summer and come down in September – what we are all used to.

    Your continued membership and involvement in the MPA is effective and helping. Sutton Conservation Commission supported the historic levels that have been maintained for half a century. But while MassDEP ordered flashboards in this spring, then supported SCC Order with the dam owner’s appeal, it upheld the well-documented and cited 1930 Rule Curve be maintained. In the latest round through the MEPA process, DEP heard the MPA’s call for protection of private wells in addition to the lake ecosystem.

    Things are not going to be perfect or the status quo until the ownership side of the dam issue is put to rest. MPA continues to work steadily and methodically on that front. Hopefully the dam owner will be willing to join a partnership which looks to preserving Manchaug Pond for the future.

    Thank you for being part of the MPA – the association gives us a unified voice as we work “to promote the welfare and correct use of Manchaug Pond and its watershed.” Paying your dues, responding to the recent survey, tuning in to the blog to keep informed, attending MPA meetings, and just being there for Manchaug Pond – ready to jump in as the dam owner brings us into new arenas, etc – makes us all the more effective as the MPA!

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