The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 30, 2006


Dam fails, flooding Cranberry Bog

The dam was leaking prior to the large break this week, as this view taken May 15 shows. A trail from Chelmsford's Elm Street leads to the dam, which is upstream of the Carlisle Cranberry Bog. (Photo by Deborah Geltner)

Early Tuesday morning the western portion of the Cranberry Bog was flooded, due to a partial collapse of a dam located upstream in Chelmsford.

Cranberry grower Mark Duffy said the crop was damaged, because many of the plants were in bloom when they were covered with water. Duffy has moved sand and gravel into the breach, but said, "It is only an extremely temporary fix to the problem." He said it was necessary to act quickly; "If I had not done that, I would have lost my entire cranberry crop and lost the dikes at the Cranberry Bog."

Duffy said water is still coming around a damaged pipe, part of an old water control structure in the failed area of the dam. This water may cause the added material to erode. He warned, "It is not capable of surviving any amount of water. The water moves the gravel and sand like it is just nothing."

Debby Geltner, a volunteer Conservation Commission land steward for the Cranberry Bog, said the dam is located on Chelmsford Conservation Land. She observed the water level of the pond behind the dam dropped "quite a bit" before the emergency repair was in place.

The dam has been the subject of controversy for years, as cranberry grower Mark Duffy tried to work with Chelmsford officials to make needed repairs to the dam (see Mosquito, May 5, Carlisle cranberries threatend by Chelmsford dam problems). Last month he spoke with the Carlisle Board of Selectmen (BOS), who agreed to try to help negotiate a solution. Selectman John Williams and Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie inspected the dam site with Duffy, prior to the breach.

"It has got to be fixed,"Duffy said, and added, "I don't really know why Chelmsford has ben unable to do something for so long."

Duffy has been growing cranberries on the site for 18 years. The town-owned Cranberry Bog is located on 151-acres of conservation land off Curve Street. The property was purchased in 1986.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito