If you go back and read comments sent in by readers and my responses, you gain a bit more insight into the game, the complexity of it and the ever-evolving plan. I can tell you that this past month the game has gone from a slow moving football-type game of delays and postponements to a rousing game of ping pong with the ball change hands repeatedly this week alone. New info may be out there that I am not yet aware, but here’s a few answers for today…
Are the flashboards in? Could be – I haven’t heard or driven by yet today. Sutton Conservation Commission (SCC) ordered them in so that historic levels could be maintained. 1-0 The 10 day waiting period has passed earlier this week so now we will see compliance or enforcement.
Did the dam owner appeal to DEP because they didn’t like the SCC ruling? Sure they did – at the last “hour” so to speak – for more delays. I will tell you now that the MPA discussed appealing the decision to DEP before it came out if SCC ruled anything less than historic – last year we had a major fish kill at a level higher than the latest dam owner proposal – how could we settle for anything less than what was good for the health of this ecosystem. SCC came through with a solid, detailed Order of Conditions which upholds the Wetlands Protection Act. 1-0
Will the appeals process delay getting the flashboards in? It could have but MassDEP stands for Department of Environmental Protection. DEP told interface to put the boards in last year without SCC involvement. That position has not changed. The flashboards need to be put in to keep this ecosystem from further harm during the appeal. 2-0
What about Dam Safety? Ah… glad you asked! Tuesday I was at DCR with two Lakes and Ponds Program staff getting those shells identified. (I’ll tell you about that later. Boy, were they interested! Something like 15 out of 3,500 Mass lakes have them!) When they started taking about waterlevel and drawdown, I stopped them and told them we have no control of the water and the relationship with the dam owner has changed to no cooperation and we have had great changes to the levels… those state employees assumed the Office of Dam Saftey had declared us “unsafe.” NO!, no determination has ever been issued – all the MPA hears and the record shows the Manchaug Pond Dam is well-maintained, in good condition and safe. 3-0
The MPA President, an official umpire, says 3-0 looks good for flashboards in. So now the ball is with the dam owner. Compliance seems reasonable.
That’s some of the outcomes on the short term goal of getting the waterlevel up for spring. We also have the Douglas Conservation Commission looking at the effect the Sutton-located dam will have on the shoreline bank, wetlands, coves and critical vernal pool habitats in Douglas. (Remember the NOI only went to NHEndangered Species Program – not the significantly revised plan recently submitted by the dam owner and it has been ruled it is not a “limited project.”) I would bet that DCC in upholding the Wetlands Protection Act will put the score to 4-0. But we won’t get confident or let our guard down- we need to present our facts there as well.
Okay – that’s short term…as of today. loopholes and legal mumbo jumbo could be next. We won’t rest until it is permanently resolved.
But… the Manchaug Pond flow chart/solution plan is a two armed monster: Operations AND Ownership. Check this article just in from a director on the Board and Past President of the MPA: http://www.telegram.com/ scroll down to Local News. We have heros on the Operations side of our plan. We need a hero on the Ownership side. We need a dam owner invested in the water, who sees its value and will not only work with the ecosystem and the property owners who have spent decades and lifetimes knowing and advocating for Manchaug Pond, but who can capitalize on the whole deal to make it cost-efficient, sustaining and productive. That would give us a clear lead and an eventual win and and would give the out our dam owner wants. We need creative thinking, out-of-the box type stuff if you will.
In closing,a special thanks today to the Towns of Sutton and Douglas – their Administrators and Conservation Commissioners and staff, and the state agencies from Dept. of Environmental Protection, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Dept. of Fish and Game and our pond’s state legislators who continue to put so much time and research into the best avenues to take in the protection of our Commonwealth’s water resource and specifically our Manchaug Pond!
4-0 Sure would be nice to have a winning season!