10 December 2013: Clary Lake Water Level Petition Update


Senator Chris Johnson

Looking back, I see I haven’t posted to this site since November 21st. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being I didn’t have any good news to report and for another I’ve been rather busy with work, which is a welcome change. Today I received an email from Aaron Miller, Whitefield Town Clerk with a couple of documents from Senator Chris Johnson. One is a letter dated 11 September 2013 to DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho and the other is a letter to the Whitefield Selectmen just last week dated 05 December 2013.  The letter to the DEP Commissioner was posted to the Town of Whitefield’s Facebook Page today. I thought I’d post them here.

I’ve been in close contact with Senator Johnson around this issue for the last year and a half and I’ve found him to be sympathetic, very responsive, and very helpful. He had sent a letter to Commissioner Aho back in late August of this year, asking for an update on the status of the water level petition. I corresponded with him on September 9th at which time he told me of a response he’d received from the Commissioner the previous week stating that it would likely be another 6 weeks before the order was issued (implying a date of somewhere around the end of October). He also told me he intended to respond to her and he did send the following letter, which I had not seen until today:

11 September 2013 Letter to Commissioner Aho

Here’s Senator Johnson’s response to a letter from the Whitefield Selectmen:

05 December 2013 Letter to Whitefield Selectmen

The Town of Whitefield wrote to both Senator Johnson and Representative Sanderson back in November. Senator Johnson’s response suggests that we might expect a water level order any day. That’s all well and good but I don’t really expect the Department to issue an order now until after the first of the year. Here’s an excerpt of and email that project manager Beth Callahan sent to me on November 25th in response to an email request from me for an update on the petition status:

The Department has been having several back and forth discussions and reviews with the AG’s office for some time now to create a draft Order.  The last water level order issued was in the 1980s by the BEP, so it’s important to us to make sure we’ve scrutinized all of the collected information in order to address the criteria and make reasonable conclusions and to make sure we’ve thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly crossed all T’s and dotted all I’s.  We are now at the point of working on the final details.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer on timing. 

I also spoke recently with Kathy Howatt, the DEP staff person in charge of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC’s petition for release from dam ownership or water level maintenance and she has assured me that a draft Clary Lake water level order is currently being reviewed by lawyers with the Office of the Attorney General.

Finally, from the rumor mill: in a decision that surprised no one, Pleasant Pond Mill LLC’s request that jurisdiction of their petition for release from dam ownership or water level maintenance be turned over to the Board of Environmental Protection, has been denied.

Many thanks to Senator Johnson for his continued support. It is greatly appreciated.