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PO Box 370, East Brookfield, MA 01515
Lake Association
Quaboag Quacumquasit

QQLA: Quaboag/Quacumquasit Lake Association
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Why a "Flow Barrier"

2022 Update

Lake Quaboag (North Pond) and Lake Quaqumquasit (South Pond) are connected at the bridge on Lake Rd / S. Pond Rd near the South Pond Boat Ramp. Water normally flows under the bridge FROM South Pond INTO North Pond. Attached to this bridge is the “FLOW BARRIER” that was installed in 1991. This barrier is manually raised or lowered as needed to help prevent ‘Backflow’ into South Pond.

It is a quirk of the shapes and sizes of these ponds, and their associated watersheds, that certain rain events cause the ‘lower’ North Pond to have its level rise higher than the level in the normally ‘upstream’ South Pond. This is due to the radical difference in the size of each watershed: South Pond’s watershed is about 1.8 square miles, tiny in comparison to North Pond’s watershed of over 76 square miles! The result of a heavy rain is for South Pond’s level to ‘crest’ quickly, 6-12 hours after a rainfall; North Pond’s level takes between 45 - 55 hours to peak, at which time backflow into South Pond often results.

Backflow would not be much of a concern if not for the water contaminants found in North (but not in South) Pond, namely Phosphorus, other chemicals, and invasive weed species. The sources of these contaminants is a different discussion. Data developed between 1985 and 1990, plus more recent data from a Mass DEP study supports the decision to install the flow barrier. Links to this detailed data are found on our website: ‘QQLA.org’

An additional cause for concern relates to the ‘retention time’ of the water in each pond. South Pond is 225 acres, its average depth is just over 30 feet. North Pond is twice as large at 540 acres, but only 1/5th as deep (6.6 feet on average), so it actually holds considerably less water volume. The retention time of the water in North Pond is only 12 days on average. Conversely south pond’s retention time is 1.46 YEARS – 40 times longer! Conclusion: prevent backflow conditions in the first place, hence the flow barrier.

QQLA volunteer members participate with the town of E. Brookfield in both monitoring flow conditions and in the operation of the barrier. The physical (manual) raising and lowering of the barrier is accomplished solely by QQLA volunteers.

An undesirable side-effect of the lowered barrier is the impediment to watercraft passing under the bridge. Small craft can be portaged over the road easily as there is a boat ramp on each side of the bridge. The position of the barrier can be determined visually if one is at the barrier. If not, a boater can use the website: ‘IsTheBarrierOpen.org’ or scan the QR code on the right to determine the barrier position remotely.

-- Randy Weiss, Don Taft & Doug Vizard --

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