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Low Pond Level Halts Campground Swimming

July 26, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Swimming is prohibited at Forge Pond Campground near Fall River, Mass., and kayaking and canoeing are also off limits on certain days.

“It’s done a serious job on our business,” campground owner Diane Robert said of the lowered water levels of Forge Pond, along with other troubles the town has faced recently, the Fall River Herald News reported.

Last spring, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation used emergency funds to hire a state contractor for a $188,000 breach project for Forge Pond Dam.

State and local authorities say that action — approved by the governor at the suggestion of State Rep. David Sullivan — was necessary to avert disaster. Forge Pond Dam — an 18th century structure — was considered a high-hazard dam by the state Office of Dam Safety. It nearly collapsed in February, forcing Freetown authorities to call a state of emergency.

But after the breach, the water level at Forge Pond is the lowest it’s been.

Forge Road resident Judith Jackson brought that issue to the Board of Selectmen recently. Selectmen said they would discuss the issue with the state DCR. But a DCR spokesman said there is nothing the state can do.

Jackson said she has lost use of two shallow wells and she now relies on one deep well.

Jackson said she dug that well years ago in case there was ever a drought. She said the shallow wells rely on high pond levels. The deep wells go into the aquifer, but that leads to shale in the water supply, forcing consumers to invest in water filtration systems.

“(Use of the shallow well) will never come back unless we get a full pond,” Jackson said, adding that some of her neighbors have experienced similar problems.

Robert is one such neighbor.

She said the business she owns with her husband Jeffery drilled a 450-foot well years ago.

While the drinking water supply is not in danger, she said business has been tough this year.

She said the pond is still good for fishing, but the level is too low for swimming. Boating has also been nixed recently.

“It’s basically not a pond anymore,” she said.

Robert said the campground has also been hurt by the closure of the Elm Street Bridge. She said many off-road campers have vehicles with weight limits that don’t allow them to travel over the detour path on Christy Lane, which has a three-ton weight limit.

Robert said visitors unfamiliar with the area sometimes choose a different campground rather than take the six-mile detour through Berkley.

It’s been a struggle this year,” Robert said.

Despite it all, she said the campground offers a pristine site and is still open for business.

Unfortunately, the state DCR will not be able to help the Robert family or other neighbors.

DCR spokeswoman Wendy Fox said the state stepped in to breach the dam to avoid a potential disaster. Fox said the state has no plans to raise the water levels or do anything else with the pond.

“We did what we did for public safety reasons,” Fox said.

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