Move to Drain Rochester, MA, Pond Draws Fire

A recent announcement by the Buzzards Bay Coalition to remove a deteriorating dam at the southern end of Hathaway Pond in Rochester, Massachusetts, is drawing fire from landowners, a local cranberry grower and herring advocates.

CBB wants to remove the ancient earthen dam, which it owns and which is badly in need of repair, and restore the waterway, part of the Sippican River, to its original condition. However, local cranberry growers Walter and Woody Hartley say that groundwater levels maintained by the pond are needed for frost prevention and irrigation. Herring advocates, among them the group Alewives Anonymous, claim that the pond serves as an important spawning area for blueback herring and alewives that migrate up the Sippican River each spring. Meanwhile, private abutters say that draining the pond will reduce their property values and destroy the scenic beauty of their backyards.

But the CBB has parties on their side as well, including members of the Sippican Lands Trust, the River Restoration Program of American Rivers, the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition, the Trustees of the Reservations, Trout Unlimited Southeast Massachusetts Chapter and the Rochester Land Trust. These groups contend that removal of the dam will greatly improve the health of the Sippican River.

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