To the Valley News:
Did you know there are two dams on Lincoln Pond?
We are all familiar with the first dam at the end of Kingdom Dam Road and the fact that it is deteriorating and needs to be replaced. New York State has recognized this fact and at some time in the future (when?) the dam is scheduled to be replaced. If the dam does fail, Lower Pond will be left with essentially a stream bed coursing through it.
The second dam is County Road 7 (Lincoln Pond Road). This dam, like Kingdom Dam, restricts water flow. Kingdom Dam created Lincoln Pond as we know it today. I have been told by the real old timers of the area that there was originally a proper bridge which coursed over the Pond and allowed the free flow of water under it. This bridge allowed the pond to flow and properly exit the waters under it. Essentially, the pond flushed itself of debris. The water flow from Upper Pond to Lower Pond was unimpeded and the pond was healthy and vibrant. It was further said that you could actually dive off that bridge into the water below. That would not be recommended now.
About 15 to 20 years ago, Essex County replaced the roadway over the pond and filled in the pond from both opposing shores with trap rock and what looks like tailings from the old local mines. They then placed in the middle a cast concrete conduit with interior dimensions of 10 foot by 10 foot. The water depth at best in this conduit is three feet deep. Therefore, there is an opening of 30 square feet to allow all the water of Upper Pond to flow into Lower Pond. This is totally inadequate to allow the proper flushing of this body of water. Not only is Upper Pond silting in because of this restriction, but Lower Pond is also silting in because this restricted water flow is not broad enough through Lower Pond. Just look at the Upper Pond side of County 7 versus the Lower Pond side. You will see a tremendous accumulation of silting and debris backed up on the Upper Pond side but not on the Lower pond side of the County 7 roadway. Also view the swift current of water flowing through the conduit as the waters of Upper Pond are funneled through it. The flow is so swift that in the winter, no matter how cold it is, the water exiting the conduit on the Lower Pond side never freezes.
Hurricane Irene last summer dramatically illustrated all that is wrong with this second dam. The worry was that Kingdom Dam would blow out, but it didn’t because the County 7 dam so restricted the water flow and kept that water in Upper Pond. As a matter of fact, Upper Pond rose about four to five feet during that terrible storm and Lower Pond rose about 18 inches. Upper Pond waters remained high and muddied after the storm for days while the lower pond waters returned to normal height quickly. Virtually all the damage to property during the storm was to the shoreline of the Upper Pond. The debris dumped into Upper Pond never had a chance to properly evacuate from the lake because the County 7 dam blocked it. Lincoln Pond took a catastrophic hit to its viability with severe silting.
The Lincoln Pond that is enjoyed by so many and provides significant tax revenues to the Town of Elizabethtown, the Elizabethtown-Lewis School District and Essex County is in severe jeopardy. The residents of Lincoln Pond pay more in taxes to the Town and ELCS than any business and receive virtually no services. If the lake fails, the value of the homes will fall and the tax base will decrease – dramatically.
The County 7 Dam is killing Lincoln Pond and Essex County has the responsibility to correct it. They built it. It was their action to fill in Lincoln Pond and place the concrete culvert that is choking Lincoln Pond. The NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to inspect that culvert to see if it is even legal to carry the loads that course over it. The DEC and the APA also have issue here to see that Lincoln Pond remains viable and to determine if illegal fill was used and/or if the body of water was filled illegally for the roadway. Essex County has to properly restore the flow of waters between Upper and Lower Ponds and to place a proper roadway allowing the free flow of water and water craft. Save Lincoln Pond. Essex County, remove that dam bridge from County7 and place a proper bridge.