Adams Pond, located behind Moose Hill Orchards near Adams Road, is at its lowest level in years, but that’s likely to change. Brian Desfosses, the state dam engineer with the Dam Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said the water level is the result of the state-requested removal of logs and debris from the dam.
“We inspect the dams every five years, and the last inspection that was done on that dam was in 2010,” Desfosses said. “At the time there were stop logs and debris piled up at the dam, and we informed the owner that the situation had to be remedied because of the future possibility of storms affecting the outflow of the water. If we had a significant storm, a 50-year flood, then in the current condition, we felt that the dam would overtop by a foot or so.” Desfosses said there was no state order to remove the debris, only a recommendation.
“We didn’t order anyone to clean it up, but we did ask and told them the reason why,” he said. “The owner said that they were considering doing that anyway. He said it used to be used for irrigation but not anymore and they were draining it for maintenance and maybe they would just leave it that way.”
Desfosses noted that some water is needed in the pond to keep frogs alive during the winter when frogs burrow into the embankment for the winter, they are expecting water to cover them so they won’t freeze. Mike Cross, farm manager at Mack’s Moose Hill Orchards, said that even with all of the boards out of the dam, as it is now, “they’re saying that if we got a 50-year storm, it would still overtop.
“What they suggested we do is hire an engineer and do a study to see what could be done, so we talked to an engineer and had a meeting down there probably a year ago with Brian (Desfosses) and a private engineer that we were going to contract to do the study,” Cross said. “They looked around and the guy that we were going to use said it was going to cost $9,000, but they said we’d better have a meeting first.”
Cross said at the meeting, a downstream hazard analysis study was suggested, for another $10,000.
“I kind of backed off at that point, thinking this is going to cost a lot of money,” Cross said. “I was all set to sign the $9,000 contract until they threw this other thing at me. So we drained the pond to do some work on it. People have been dumping stuff in the open part of the dam by the spillway. There were chunks of driveway and asphalt in there and stuff the beavers had done, so last fall we started to let the water out and we cleaned it all out by hand.”
Cross said they took out the plug to lower the water level enough to do clean-up work, and when he called Desfosses to tell him they were going to put the plug back in, Cross said Desfosses told him, “well it’s down now, just let it stay that way.” That’s how things remained until Cross was notified by Kathy Wagner that she wanted to do another Visit Adams Pond Day. “I told them that there was no Adams Pond anymore,” Cross said. “The pond was part of a conservation easement Andy (Mack, Moose Hill owner) sold to the town years ago and now it’s not a pond, and they wanted to see if there was anything that could be done and maybe raise some of the money for the studies.”
Cross said things spiraled from there, with Wagner contacting State Senator Sharon Carson, R Londonderry, who contacted the Dam Bureau. Last week, Desfosses came to Londonderry to view the dam. “He gave the OK to put the plug back in and it brought the water level back to where it is today,” Cross said. The future status of the dam has not yet been decided.