In a decision that should come as a surprise to no one, the Board of Environmental Protection after listening to comments from Aquafortis Associates LLC [AQF] and others, summarily denied AQF’s appeal of the December 2018 DEP Order transferring the Clary Lake Water Level Order to the Clary Lake Association. The Board also denied several parties requests for a public hearing. So the DEP Transfer Order stands.
The information-gathering portion of the hearing lasted over 2 hours, the bulk of which was used by attorney for AQF Dennis Carrillo to explain and justify AQF’s appeal; this was a non-testimonial hearing and the record was closed which means all of AQF’s attempts to supplement the record with additional material were for naught. After AQF spoke, CLA President Malcolm Burson issued a short statement on the Association’s position- basically that we filed a satisfactory application and did everything right and in a timely fashion and that we applaud the Department’s decision to transfer the Order to us. Finally, counsel for DEP spoke briefly stating their opinion that the DEP had covered all the bases and that the CLA transfer application was deemed satisfactory and complete. The Board then asked if there were any additional comments; Butch Duncan spoke briefly about his desire for a public hearing, and Paul Kelley spoke about why the thinks the Clary Lake Association lacks sufficient Right, Title, and Interest in the Clary Lake dam to operate it, an argument that Mr. Carrillo also attempted to make. The Board however correctly observed that there is a forum for resolving title issues, and they aren’t it.
The Board deliberated for all of about 2 minutes before issuing their unanimous decision denying the appeal.
A number of CLA Board members and several Clary Lake Association members attended the hearing. I have no idea how many people if any listened in on the DEP Virtual Meeting Room, if you did I’d be interested in hearing your reactions.
There’s an article that appeared in the Sunday December 23rd Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel by Central Maine Papers staff writer Jessica Lowell about the Clary Lake dam and the Rubin/Ayer v. Smith/AQF lawsuit which went to trial last week. This latest article is factually accurate which is somewhat of a marvel even considering Ms. Lowell has been following the Clary Lake saga for a number of years.
Totally Staged Photo of George Fergusson posing at the gate. Colin Caissie actually did all the heavy cranking.
I had intended to post some news and pictures on the dam repairs before now but I have been out straight and only now, the day before Christmas, have I found the time to sit down and do it. Last Tuesday workers with PCS removed the concrete forms and pulled some sandbags. They came back the next day to clean up and load up the rest of their gear and materials, bringing to completion the initial repairs to the Clary Lake dam. That afternoon, Colin Caissie completed fabrication of a wrench to operate the gate, and we wasted no time in closing it. Part of the rush was the anticipated rain forecast for Friday: we really wanted to capture the runoff! Here are a few pictures from when we closed the gate, and a video of water flowing over the weir: Continue reading →
On Friday December 14th, 2018 the PCS crew finished forming up the original log sluice gate in the middle of the dam and poured concrete, bringing to completion the major repairs to the Clary Lake dam. I can hardly believe it’s really happened! So many things had to go just right for this to happen now, from the lack of rain and snow over the last 2 weeks to the rising temperatures on the day of the pour. So much could have gone wrong, it really is a miracle. If the lake level hadn’t dropped enough and if the temperature hadn’t finally moderated, we’d still be waiting, and who knows when conditions would have permitted the repairs to be finished? It was only 4 days ago that I posted that dam repairs have resumed. All told this final phase of effort took 5 full days, made all the more difficult by the brutally cold temperatures for the first 4 days of the week. Here are some more pictures that tell this latest chapter in the story: Continue reading →
Repair work on the Clary Lake dam has been on hold for a few weeks while we waited for the water level behind the dam to fall enough to allow work to resume. We weren’t sure if a sufficient work-window was going to open, but fortunately, the 2-storms-a-week weather pattern that dropped 7″ of rain on us in November has given way to good old fashioned cold, dry, Maine December weather, and the water level behind the dam started to fall rapidly. At the beginning of the month there was over a foot of water flowing through the open weir. By last Sunday morning, the water depth was down to a little over 3″ and dropping, and with a possible large rain event forecast for next weekend, Rick Pease of PCS Construction decided it was time to resume work.
Monday morning they started the day by filling sandbags (at left), and in the afternoon they constructed a small cofferdam to block water from flowing through the open outlet weir. There was a little leakage so this morning they draped a plastic sheet over the sandbags to stop the leaking. Then they built a tent around the work area and installed a portable propane heater to keep it warm. They then got to work finishing removing the old blocks of concrete fascia that formed the original log weir and constructing the steel rebar structure that will reinforce the concrete weir they’re building. The plan is to have it formed up and ready to pour concrete this coming Friday, and just in time too, as a large rain event is forecast for next weekend.
Here are a few pictures of the start of this next and final phase of effort:
Clary Lake was completely ice-covered by late afternoon on Friday, November 23rd, just one day after Thanksgiving. This is the earliest ice-in date we’ve recorded since we started keeping track (check out the Ice-In and Ice-Out Dates page). The lake was mostly frozen over a few days earlier but for some large areas of open water; to qualify as “iced in” the lake has to be fully covered by ice. As a kid I recall ice skating on Thanksgiving, but that was more than 50 years ago; in recent years, ice-in has been more likely in mid-December. It remains to be seen if the lake remains ice-covered with the somewhat warmer weather we’re expecting this coming week. If you plan to venture out on it, please be careful! Some areas of ice will be plenty thick while other areas may be unsafe; warmer temperatures, and rainfall will not help the situation.
Repairs to the Clary Lake dam have been on hold for a week; the combination of bitter cold temperatures and a high water level at the dam forced a temporary halt to the work and the PCS crew took the better part of Thanksgiving week off. With warmer weather forecast for this coming week and with water levels at the dam falling nicely, we’re hopeful that repairs can be completed in the next week or two before winter sets in with a vengeance. We’re hoping that today’s storm and the one due in next Tuesday won’t result in much precipitation.
The final phase of dam repairs will consist of filling the 7′ wide hole in the dam with new concrete and installing a 5′ wide weir in the top. The weir will have slots on either side for stop logs which will be used to adjust the lake level. Historically, repairs to the Clary Lake dam have been facilitated by the construction of a temporary cofferdam between the old Narrow Gauge railroad abutments, but one side is now owned by Aquafortis Associates LLC and we have not received permission from Richard Smith (owner of Aquafortis) to construct a cofferdam there. Consequently we’ve made other plans. In any case, repairs will be completed, sooner or later.
Yesterday was a landmark day at the Clary Lake dam for several reasons, not just because the underground storage tank was removed but also because PCS “shot gunite” to seal the upstream face of the dam! What an exciting (and loud!!) experience that was! I wasn’t familiar with gunite and had never seen the process so I didn’t know what to expect. The cement comes in a cement truck like regular concrete, but there the similarity ends; rather than a concrete slurry, the stuff that comes down the chute is actually only slightly damp concrete and sand mix. It dumps into a device with a strainer to trap large particles that “fluffs” it up and then blows it down a long rubber hose. At the nozzle end high pressure water is injected into the stream. The whole system is powered by high pressure air from a compressor.
It was very gratifying watching the high pressure stream of water and cement fill holes, cracks, and voids. Some of the larger voids took as much as 30 seconds to fill. I half expected one in a while to see water and cement come shooting out the other side of the dam, but I never did. Here are some more pictures of them “shooting” gunite:
All told it didn’t take them long once they got started. The were plagued with equipment malfunctions all morning, but once the cement truck arrived around noon, they got right to it and were done in less than 2 hours. Then they draped insulating blankets over the dam to help hold in the heat generated by the curing of the concrete.
I’ve got a couple of short videos I’ll post separately.