Update: High Lake Level from Rain
On Thursday 29 July - Friday 30 July we received 4.62 inches of rain in an 8-10 hour period. This downpour caused Lake Ashuelot to rise quickly. There are, from what I am told 8 ponds and streams that empty into Lake Ashuelot, needless to say we received more water from these sources other than the rainfall. Gary Mahaffy and I rode over to the dam on Friday and met with Washington and Marlow fires chiefs. We noticed that the lake level had risen to a few inches below the top of the dam; however the water level did not crest over the dam itself. Washington and Marlow fire chiefs decided in an abundance of caution to activate the emergency evacuation plan. The sate Dam bureau was also notified and responded to the dam location. After conversation later in the day with DES (department of environmental services) we were informed the dam was holding as designed but there was small sink hole on top of the dam that needed to be corrected ASAP. It was suggested that we place sandbags around the sink hole in the event that water crested the dam and would be diverted away from the sink hole. Bob Carter NHMS LLC was notified and was in contact with NH Bureau of dams, It was explained to Bob what the situation was and that lake level had started to recede approximately 2 inches by late afternoon on Friday. Bob and DES agreed that the sink hole could be corrected on Saturday morning. I went over to the dam at 7:00AM on Saturday morning and found that Bob Carter was on site and the sink hole issue was corrected. DES was notified and satisfied that the problem was corrected. At this point the lake level had dropped several inches. The majority of the water at LAE marina has subsided and I expect that the entire marina will be accessible over the next 2 days. I am happy that the dam held up with the amount of water that emptied into Lake Ashuelot.If we had not rebuilt the dam 2 years ago we most likely would have had a breach. It should be noted that the 2 spillways functioned as designed. In the past it has been almost impossible to get any qualified Dam contractors to our site. The dam is not easily accessible by vehicle and it's location has been a problem. Most of the contacts we had are out of state and don't want to travel to our location, not to mention added travel cost for time and equipment. Bob Carter has been on the Dam project from the start and always responds to any problems immediately. Bob is a local engineer experienced in dam construction and water impoundment, he works with the state and is familar with state rules and regulations RE: water impoundment. I don't want to go on about the importance of the dam and Lake Ashuelot but, historically dam repairs have been done on a volunteer basis sometimes using local excavators. The repairs need to be done using engineers versed in water impoundment. In short there is more than just piling dirt and rocks to create a dam. Again I am happy the dam held as designed. Mother nature can throw a curve now and then.
2021 Annual Report
Dam Repair Donations Update
At the Ashuelot Pond Dam Village District Meeting, last August, it was voted to accept donations, to help pay for the needed repairs to our dam. We have received donations of a little over $3000. Thank you to those who have already donated. The funds are being held in a Trust, which is supervised by the Washington Trustees of the Trust Fund. We are continuing to accept donations, as the repairs will not be done until next Fall/Winter. Donations should be mailed to: APDVD, P O BOX 105, Washington, NH 03280.
Donations Now Accepted
The APDVD is finally, legally ready to accept donations for repairs to our dam. We finally needed to hire a lawyer to make sure we were doing everything required by law! The donations will be held in a Trust, administered by the Town Trustees of the Trust Funds and they will pay the invoices. If you wish to donate, please send checks to APDVD, P O Box 105, Washington, NH 03280. Please write Dam Repairs in the memo.
Neighboring Lakes Drawing Down
Both Millen and Sand Ponds are doing deep drawdowns, which will raise our lake level. Millen will drop their pond 5 feet, starting September 28. On October 3rd they will fully open their gate. Sand will remove two boards on September 28 and over the following weeks remove more boards. Their dam operators will be in communication with our Dam Commissioners, to monitor the level of Ashuelot. They can slow down the flow, if Ashuelot begins to rise too fast/high.
Lake Level Low
6/14/2020: Our dam contractor returned today to re-examine the leakage. The plug worked particularly, but there is still something very wrong. It appears that boards in the lower gate may be rotted or out of line and allowing water through. He has suggested, starting with dropping down sand bags to stop the leak. There are other options, if that doesn’t work -PC
6/11/2020: Our Dam Commissioner has spoken with JNH Department of Environmental Services and NH DAM LLC. ie. Gate Leakage. The outflow is less than the inflow. They added a pulp plug to help stem the flow. The leak is 18-24 inches in length and less tha 1/2 inch wide. Hydraulic pressure makes the flow appear worse than it is. The second spillway is where the majority of the water is flowing out of the lake. There is no way to stop that. We are in an abnormally dry period. We need rain! Maybe we will get a bit of help with today’s storms -PC
"I would like to clarify the condition of the dam and it's components. There are 4 components for Lake Ashuelot water impoundment. A dam, gate, and 2 spillways. We discovered last year that the dam was developing sink holes, the face off the dam had most of the supporting rocks falling into the lake. At our annual meeting last year we brought this to the membership and voted to accept repairs to the dam, gate and spillway. During the winter months the dam was completely rebuilt and will last another 50 years. When we closed the gate in February there were no noticeable issues while the lake was filling. During the past few weeks there was concern that the gate was leaking, I want to explain that the gate and dam are 2 seperate components. The dam is safe and secure without issues. The gate did develop leaks at the base, the very lowest board below the water line is rotting and a hole approximately 6-8 inches by 4 inches (height) developed. We have a civil engineer whose background is dams and water impoundment. ( NHDAMS LLC ) Several sandbags were dropped into the area where the bottom leak developed, the idea that water pressure will draw the sandbags into the rotted section and plug the leak. This did slow the leak significantly however; several more 55lb sandbags were dropped into the bottom. It is believed that at this time this problem has been corrected. There is a leak between the upper and lower gate approximately 18 inches wide and less than 1/2 in in height. This is considered a minor leak. The engineer suggests that this outflow is less then than the inflow, based on the size of the lake and hydrology reports. The lake is extremely low. Several other lakes, rivers, and ponds in NH we are in an abnormal drought area, some NH towns have issued water bans. We have not had significant rain since late January, the spring thaw was not what we usually have, there were several smaller thaws during the course of the winter. What have we done to address these issues? During the late fall and winter we have contacted several federal agencies and conservation groups requesting funding or grants. The problem is we are a private dam limited to funding. We are not classified as a high hazard dam which is a requirement for federal funding. Our classification is a significant hazard dam. The problem with the spillway directly to the left of the dam is a small leak at the base of the spillway on the down stream side, this leak has no effect on the lake level but is fault with Department of Environmental Services and needs to be corrected. Operating the gate has become a safety issue for dam operators, the boards are rotting, the steel structure is rusting, Opening and closing the gate has become a 2 to 3 hour task. It is no longer a serviceable device. We do not how much damage is below the water line. We can replace the gate with a state of the art manufactured aluminum gate that will last another 50 years. The spillway needs to be completely exposed to its base and a cement barrier constructed along the entire length of the spillway. In the past we were able to make minor repairs as needed but conditions are beyond our skills, this is not considering environmental regulations that have been put into palce the past few years. We did last year secure services from a professional civil engineer that has experience and who works closely with DES. At this time we are short approximately $7,000 to $10,000 to have work done on the gate estimated cost $54,000 to replace the gate and repair the spillway total cost estimated $94,000. It would be less expensive to have this work completed at a one time project rather than 2 seperate projects. Funding is a problem and our priority is to complete the gate replacement. We did contact NHDRA and NH Municipal Association RE: accepting donations NH law requires the district voting members to vote to accept donations. We are looking into bonding, bank loans or loans from private sources. We are confident we can fund construction and competition of the gate this fall and winter, we are looking into a way to raise $94,000. We realize this is more than has been spent on dam maintenance however; to maintain the lake it needs to be done. In the future the dam will require little or no annual maintenance other then raising and lowering the gate." - Joe Belcastro
Dam Work Complete