Notes from Reservoir Committee Meeting   6/23/99

7-9 pm, Arlington Town Hall Annex

Attendance:  Richard Baron, Eugene Benson, Richard Bento, Jeff Bienkowski, Susan Brent, Alice Chen, Ralph Elwell, Cathy Garnett, Brian Hasbrouck Jane Howard, Elizabeth Karpati, Geraldine Kaye, Kevin Knobloch, Leslie Mayer, Jim Marzilli, Sherry Miller, Laura Moore, Angela Olszewski, Oakes Plimpton, Betsy Schwartz, Susan Wheelock.

The meeting was chaired by Gene Benson.  The notes are by Elizabeth Karpati.

The situation:

Report from DEM (Dept. of Environmental Management) stated that the Reservoir dam is not in good shape but does not appear to pose an imminent danger.  Eventually Arlington may have to do what DEM says,  but DEM does not require us to do anything immediately -- we can have a study done and try to propose a reasonable (and scientifically defensible) alternative to clearcutting the trees.  Once DEM approves a plan, the town will need to get the necessary permits and funds to do the work.

Richard Bento reported that agreement with consultant (Weston & Sampson) for a study of the dam is in the works and should come in about 2 weeks.  Study is to include:

Study will probably take about 3 months to complete -- results by November?

Reservoir straddles Arlington/Lexington line;  dam is on Arlington territory but much of the water comes from Lexington. The Lexington Conservation Commission has been notified.

There have been extreme weather events in the past, e.g. hurricanes and the 10" rainstorm that flooded the Kenmore subway station, but no record was kept of what if anything these did to the dam, i.e., we have no real clue to what future similar events might do.

Middle part of dam (stump dump) is so wide that an uprooted tree couldn't breach it.

Mill Brook now floods some abutters' basements in heavy rain, but it goes around the dam, and has some right angles and culverts, creating inadequate carrying capacity for the water it gets from all sources (with a small fraction coming from/through the Res) in a big rainstorm. I.e., doing something to the dam or even draining the Res wouldn't help this problem. Hydrological study by consultants will include Mill Brook drainage and flooding problem to some extent.  Then in spring we should try to get Tufts students to study it as a project.

Decommissioning would mean letting the water out of the reservoir but letting the dam stand (useful for flood control in future storms --  if it doesn't deteriorate further and break). Creating a wetland in its place (as done e.g. at Menotomy Rocks park) would be costly and require a lot of work.  Letting the water out would change the habitat a lot -- no more place for waterfowl.

Action plans:

Discussion of Leslie Mayer's draft questionnaire: Kathy Garnett will try to get a map of the Res watershed from Mass. GIS.

Committees:  Five were proposed but some appear to be premature at this point.  Tasks for now:

Outreach to public: We really have three tasks: Rep. Marzilli offered help from his two summer interns (available through July) if we can think of some specific (easily describable) tasks for them.

Next meeting:  Wed., July 28, 7:30 pm, Town Hall Annex, Second Floor Conference Room

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