[dropcap]I[/dropcap] try to keep this news forum factual and informative and not all that speculative. From time to time however I am compelled to offer up some commentary on what has been happening, where we are and where it looks like we are headed. This is one of those times. My goal is to bring some perspective and commonality into our lives where they intersect with Clary Lake and the travails that have assaulted it for so long. Spring is a good time for this kind of musing: it’s a time to wake up, gear up, get in shape, and get ready for another season. I feel this is going to be an important year, that a lot is going to happen. We may not see a resolution of our water level crisis this year but then again we might, the problem being that I really have no idea what a “resolution” might look like. Certainly we’ll see some real progress towards a resolution. Not only am I prepared to be surprised, I expect to be. If one thing has been proven time and time again it is that we have no idea what lies around the next corner.
High Water for a Change!
We’ve all been enjoying the high water this spring, the lake level got as high as -8.76″ below the normal high water mark on April 13th, the highest it has been since I started measuring water levels back in early December, 2011. As high as it’s been, the lake level still fell short of the elevation specified in the Water Level Order, it having never reached the normal high water mark at ice out. Still, it has been wonderful seeing the great marsh filled with water and wildlife once again. The higher-than-last-fall’s water level in early April has even been credited with helping the firefighters save much of the Fergusson home that caught fire back on April 5th. Whitefield Fire Chief Scott Higgins was quoted in the Lincoln County News article about the fire:
“There were no issues getting water to the scene due to its proximity to Clary Lake, Higgins said. It’s a valuable water source and it helped preserve the house. If this happened last summer, we would have had a problem” due to the low water level, he said.
I can personally attest to the truth of his statement. At the rate the old house was catching fire when the first firetruck arrived, it was clear that a even a few more minutes delay in getting- and keeping- water on the fire would have made the difference between saving much of the house, and losing all of it. However, I doubt Chief Higgins knew that they had to park Whitefield’s new $350,000 fire truck on the ramp at the State boat launch with its front tires out on the ice to get to water deep enough to pump from. The value of Clary Lake as a source of water for firefighting has been well documented. Ironically, we can thank the beavers that obstructed the flow through the outlet gate this winter, and not the dam owner, for the lake being as high as it was. Isn’t it time to get a dry fire hydrant installed at the inlet of the lake on Route 126?
Enough is Enough
Paul Kelley’s assertion that the dam is dangerous and can’t hold water is once again proven wrong, not that anyone ever believed him, or cared what he had to say about it. Granted, it has been leaking quite a bit but if he’d ONLY closed the gate this winter and plugged up the hole with a couple of pillows to staunch the flow of water through it, he could be in substantial compliance with the Clary Lake Water Level Order today without having spent a dime. But no, he’d rather continue fighting a losing battle on principle, and out of spite. His latest affront to decency and common sense is a quote about how the dam might not be a dam at all, captured for posterity in the recent Central Maine Papers article about his bankruptcy:
“What’s more, Kelley said, whether the structure is a dam is an open question, and if it’s not, he said it’s not clear that it could legally impound water.”
An open question indeed. This new scheme he’s hatching will be as successful as all the other bob-n-weave schemes he’s hatched over the last 5 years to try and out-smart the DEP, which is to say, not successful at all. It’s right up there with his calling the Clary Lake dam a “nuisance” and a “hazard to navigation” because of a misstatement in the Clary Lake Water Level Order referring to “Pleasant Pond Stream” as a “navigable stream.” We all see these hairball schemes of his for what they are: the futile [the_tooltip text=”machinations” tooltip=”machinations definition: complicated and secret plans to get power or control or to gain an advantage” url=”” background=”” color=””] of a desperate man running out of options and out of time.
Falling Lake Level
Sadly, having peaked on April 13th, the lake level has begun to fall again, just when the wildlife and waterfowl are picking out nesting and housing sites. The best we can hope for now is a wet spring and summer which might serve to keep the lake level both high enough and stable enough for the loons and other waterfowl to successfully nest, and the furbearers to build houses and raise a family. I think the last time the Loons successfully nested and raised a baby on Clary Lake was back in 2008. We all remember the tragic ending of last year’s loon nesting effort.
Rubin/Ayers v. Kelley/Smith Lawsuit
I haven’t written much about the the lawsuit against Kelley and Smith (and PPM and AQF) filed by Bob Rubin and Cheryl Ayer back in January 2016. In fact the last time I wrote about it was in last November’s “Update on the Clary Lake Lawsuits” post. This lack of coverage isn’t because nothing has been happening with the suit. On the contrary, the lawsuit has been rolling merrily along, at least for Bob & Cheryl, and not all that well for the Defendants. No big surprise there! After all, you know what they say about a person who represents themselves in court 🙂 Bob has kept me pretty well informed of what’s been happening, and I have copies of most if not all filings in the case. However Bob has not been looking for publicity and has asked that I not publicize it on this website. It’s not a secret proceeding however, and I have shared periodic updates about the suit with the CLA Board. I understand the Office of the Attorney General is also following the case quite closely as well.
DEP v. Aquafortis Associates LLC
Nothing to report at this time. I expect a hearing in DEP v. AQF in late April at which (I hope) all the outstanding motions regarding discovery and requests to supplement the record that I’ve written about here and here will finally be acted on by the judge. If the hearing is in open court I plan to attend. In any case I’ll post regular updates as things happen.
What’s Up? What’s Next?
- The Momentum Committee under the direction of chairperson Erin Grimshaw has a lot planned for this upcoming season. This year, for the first time ever, the Clary Lake Association is going to march in the Whitefield Fourth of July parade. It will be a great opportunity to generate some publicity for our cause, make a statement or two, and have fun. If you want to help plan this activity, contact the Momentum Committee.
- Speaking of the Momentum Committee, Erin Grimshaw unbeknownst to me got together with Sheepscot General’s Taryn Marcus and came up with a plan for a benefit supper on May 6th at the Sheepscot General to help the Fergusson family rebuild after the recent house fire. I was completely unaware of these plans until told about them the other day. I’m touched and humbled by the outpouring of support from our community.
- David Hodsdon, Jack Holland, and I will be starting up our water quality monitoring again just as soon as our dissolved oxygen meter is back from being calibrated by DEP. Every 2 weeks during the boating season (roughly May through September) we go out and record lake transparency (secchi disk readings), water depth, and dissolved oxygen and water temperature at the surface and for every meter to the bottom. David Hodsdon started doing this in 1975. This will be his 42nd year doing monitoring Clary Lake water quality. You can see a subset of data collected in recent years on our Clary Lake Water Monitoring Data page.
- The ice mostly went out on April 13th this year, but didn’t fully clear out of the east end of the lake until the afternoon of April 15th. This is about normal for some value of the term “normal.” Last year it went out on March 13th which was the earliest I have records for online on our Ice-In and Ice-Out Dates for Clary Lake page.
- This year’s Annual meeting of the Association will be on Saturday, August 12th at 2:00 PM at the home of Erin Grimshaw and Christina Bishop located at 739 Gardiner Road (Route 126) in Jefferson. Erin and Christina hosted the meeting last year and it turned out to be such a great venue that we have decided to hold it there again. Usually held on the first Saturday of August, we’ve moved it to the second Saturday in August to accommodate the schedule of our meeting hosts.
I’m really looking forward to the 2017 season on Clary Lake. Stay tuned!