By Collin Atwood
Lake Massasoit was last drained in the late 1990’s. Now, a little over 20 years later, the city of Springfield is once again draining the body of water that rests right next to Springfield College.
The typical reason for drawing down Lake Massasoit in the past, which is also known as Watershops Pond, was to clean up debris and improve the quality of the water. This used to be done more often than it is now.
The reason for this year’s drainage is a bit different.
The tornado that rushed through Western Massachusetts in 2011 left its mark on Springfield College. Not only did it destroy International Hall and wreck the roofs of Reed and Massasoit Halls, but it also did a great deal of damage to the dam located at 1 Allen Street.
Many individuals are unaware, but the tall, brick building at the corner of Walnut St. and Hickory St. has a dam and floodgates that are over 100 years old. In order to repair the damage, the lake must be drained.
Along with ruining the dam, the tornado also brought debris into the lake which needs to be removed.
The state of Massachusetts has the dam on its high hazard list.
“It’s highly unlikely that there would ever be a major flood,” said John Mailhot, Vice President of Finance and Administration at Springfield College.
“It is critically important to ensure that if major flooding were to occur, that the dam operates properly to minimize any potential impacts to the College and other homes surrounding Lake Massasoit,” he added.
The government gave the city of Springfield a grant in response to the tornado which expires in 2022. As of Oct. 26, the grant is being used to drain and clean the lake and repair the damages to the dam.
“They expect it to be relatively completely drained by Nov. 7,” Mailhot said.
The entire project, which includes draining, cleaning, fixing the dam and refilling the lake will not be completed until late April 2022.
For most people living in Springfield this is not an issue but at Springfield College, Lake Massasoit is used for a variety of things – especially at East Campus. Camp Massasoit uses the lake for canoeing, kayaking and its aquatics program.
There is also a boating and canoeing class and a kayaking class offered at Springfield College. People have also been seen fishing at the lake, as well as just sitting and enjoying the view.
Although these activities will be impacted by the drawdown of Lake Massasoit, Mailhot believes that everyone will benefit from this project.
“We fully expect that this project, when completed, will ultimately result in a positive outcome for Lake Massasoit, Springfield College and our students, faculty and staff.”
Photo: Jack Margaros/The Student