Letter from the LRA Board:
A month has gone by since the flood and it is time to give you another update. It becomes more and more certain that the flood has had a greater and more lasting impact on our lakes than any event in at least one hundred years. The added effects of major increases in land development, government regulation and awareness of ecological factors add significantly to the problems of addressing the very serious damage to our lakes.
Your LRA board has devoted countless hours trying to get a handle on what we can – and will be allowed – to do. We set five objectives and while progress has been made in some, we have experienced delays and setbacks in others.
You may know that the state offices used by the staff that work on lake issues was itself flooded. So as of today, they still have no office space and are working with mobile phones and email but no chance to consult with each other. We have been told many times that even they have not seen destruction like this before. Of course the road and bridge damage have also kept them from getting around to all the places they are needed. We are grateful for their assistance and attention to our needs but conscious of the impact of their time constraints.
The first of our priorities was to make sure we communicated with our members in as many ways as possible to provide the information we have. This fourth email update is one method used. We also put the updates on our expanded website along with pictures and a lost and found section. Updates are also posted our Facebook page.
We contacted members for whom we had no email and encouraged them to provide us with an address. As a result, we can now contact 80% of members very quickly if need be and at a much lower expense. We hope to increase that percentage even further. You have responded to these efforts with many more messages and questions back to us and more visits to the website than ever before.
The second and very important priority was to get early permission for property owners to address damage to their property. This includes material washed from the roads on the East side of the lake onto properties and into the lake. It also includes driftwood and trash thrown up on their shorelines by the high water. Although this would ordinarily take written permission, it was granted verbally for the remainder of this season only. If you still have work that involves removing material, especially from the lake, we urge you to contact a board member as there are specific limitations on what can be done within that permission. Many of you have done major work on your land and it shows.
The next priority was to get the brook coming down the hill on East Lake Road back in its banks. We requested permission and received a verbal ok. We are happy to report that it is once again flowing where it was before the flood. We are most grateful for all the work done by the Town of Ludlow on this project and in making East Lake Road and Ellison’s Lake Road passable once again.
More road work is needed and we understand the FEMA will be offering substantial financial assistance for the work. Much of the work done under the Better Back Road grants for the past few years was wiped out by the flood. Getting these grants in cooperation with the Town had been a major effort by LRA. We are working with the Town to assure that reconstruction of the roads will include replacement of the riprap, drainage ditches, etc.
Next, we sought permission to have the water level in the lake lowered so that property owners could address banks, retaining walls and lake bottom on their shores. As of today, there has been no decision on this. The latest communication from the state notes that our request for “…a temporary draw down, however there are many negative ramifications to such an act and it is still under discussion at the agency level.”
Even if permission were granted, several other issues remain:
1. Draw downs are only permitted at a rate of one inch per day.
2. The only way to draw down Lakes Rescue and Pauline is to use flood gates that
have not been tested, serviced or operated for many years. Responsibilities and
costs are also unknown.
3. The period during which verbal permission for such actions might have been
possible has now expired. The state is again requiring written application and
At the minimum, we must therefore conclude that permission to draw down the lakes will not come this year, no matter how much we feel it is needed.
Our final priority is to address the new silting in Round Pond. The flood brought in material that has effectively blocked navigation to and from the river and out into Round Pond. We have been told that if the purpose is“… to restore a previously navigable area, it is a potentially permittable project.” First, however, we must obtain a great deal of information for a variety of state and federal agencies to review. Since this is taking considerable time, actual dredging will not take place this year. In the meantime, any of you with boats still in the water should be extremely cautious in the area from the narrows North. Even pontoon boats can easily run aground in the still murky water.
There are some other considerations about dredging that must be considered. Substantial amounts of sediment continues to come into the lake from unstable stream action above us and reconstruction of damaged roads. One expert predicts this may continue for more than a year. There are questions about the best type of dredging and where to put dredged material while it dries. The containers are quite large and need to be placed in a spot where “dewatering” is possible and safe. Finally, there is question as whether the silt might contain contaminants. We are attempting to investigate all these questions and balance our actions with what is allowable, affordable and good for the lake as well as property owners. Any dredging is expensive and can easily exceed the funds we have saved for that purpose.
So, at this point we are doing everything for which we have the resources. Much of our effort involves a very steep learning curve. We are increasingly aware that full recovery is far in the future and that we will continue to need your continued support, assistance and understanding.
Your LRA board