Bleachery … Puddle? 

by | Sep 24, 2020

An extreme drought has dried up much of the pond, and everywhere else

Anyone who gardens knows this: it was a very dry summer. In fact, it’s been so dry that most of Bleachery Pond is dry, with water only at the deepest part of the pond, just before the falls. It’s been disconcerting to longtime residents Carole and Mark Finn, whose house on Cedar Avenue overlooks the pond. They say they’ve never seen the pond so low. 

“We’re in a bad drought, said state meteorologist and climatologist Lenny Giuliano with the Dept. of Environmental Management. “We’re in the extreme level.”

Giuliano said the state is down 9 inches of rain since Jan. 1. Add to that the heat we saw this summer and waterways are drying up. The average daily temperature July and August is around 72 degrees; this year, it was 76 degrees. Rhode Island saw the second hottest July on record, he said. 

With all the other pressing news these days, the fact that Rhode Island is in a severe drought has largely been overlooked. Part of that is timing – the drought didn’t start until the summer. While we didn’t see a lot of snow last winter, we had pretty good rainfall in the spring. Giuliano said there’s rain in the long-range forecast and in fact rain is forecast for the early part of next week. 

He did note other possibly good bit of news if you are a business owner hoping to continue using the outdoors this fall: Temperatures are forecast to be higher than normal for the next three months. 

When the water level dropped in Bleachery Pond, these wheels emerged from the muck (taken 9/23/20). Credit: Darren Hill

The empty Bleachery Pond has exposed just how full of sediment it is as well as what resident Darren Hill thought might be an overturned car. Fire Chief Bernie Patenaude said he thought it was a cart perhaps made using a truck bed. Hill called the town when he noticed wheels sticking up out of the muck. 

According to Town Manager Andrew Nota, the pond belongs to the state so they have put the question to DEM.*

Patenaude, who recently bought a home that overlooks the pond, said he wondered if it would be possible for the town to apply for grant money to dredge the pond, seeing all the sediment that’s built up. It could help ease flooding further upstream, he said.

Patenaude pointed to an area of the pond that’s become a wetlands over the years, overgrown with bushes. “We used to play hockey there.” 

The pond was a swimming hole for local youths for decades (you can read about that HERE and HERE) but by the 1980s at least some children were told there was a snapping turtle in the pond, perhaps to keep them from swimming there. The only “beach” for the pond is now owned by the EG Housing Authority and is part of the Shoreside Apartments property at the end of 6th Avenue. Nonresidents aren’t allowed.

The pond from the north, near Shoreside Apartments mid-September 2020.

Bleachery Pond mid-September 2020 from one of the houses on Cedar Avenue.   

 

 * The information from Town Manager Nota was added Sept. 28, 2020.

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11 Comments

  1. Bruce Mastracchio

    Another story to read would be First Dip in the Bleachery by yours truly. I am now swimming later in the year than usual, in the Bay at Sandy Point, just past Goddard Park. Went in Sept.23 and am going again today ( Sept.25) as McDermott Pool is still Not Open ! Don’t know how much longer I can keep it up. Sad to see about the Bleachery BUT it is NOT unusual and has happened before. It is a place of so many memories. Not just swimming, but skating and hockey in the winter and making out by a fire on the shore complete with hot chocolate!

    Reply
  2. Matt Stark

    I am so glad to see this article! I was wondering what was going on there. One question, is any of the work at the bridge on Kenyan blocking flow from the pond and dam that are northwest of Bleachery?

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      We wondered the same but according to the R.I. Water Resources Board, the Kenyan bridge work is not connected to the lack of flow.

      Reply
  3. Judy Stenberg

    The two brooks that feed the Bleachery Pond are both dry, and no water falls over the small dam on Kenyon Ave. I’ve also noted other brooks that are down to the stones of the river bed. I’ve never seen it like this.

    Reply
  4. Earle Mitchell

    I can remember the rope swing and there were many tales of “skinny dipping” during the evening hours but these stories were never validated. this from a resident who left EG during the late 1950’s

    Reply
  5. Thomas maclean

    When I was a kid we use to play hockey on the pond iv never seen it like it is shown I hope they can dredge it and get the bottom cleaned up so when the water returns it would be cleaner and deeper . Had a lot of good memories on that beautiful pond .

    Reply
  6. Mary Lynn Reisert Krim

    I never did swim there but my brother did and he made sure I didn’t go near it in the summer but I remember winter night skating there in my teens and enjoying the warm fires with my friends. I also remember watching the men cut the ice to sell to people like my grandmother who had an icebox. Many years ago……..

    Reply
  7. Jean Douglas

    Other debre in the pond now are: plastic buckets, 2 metal chairs, traffic cones, plastic bags, wire, etc. It also looks like there is a sewage leakage. A good cleanup before the dredging might be considered. There is still so much wildlife living there, even now: herons, egrets, ospreys, etc. that still rely on the pond to fish. A swan flew over yesterday, checking out where it use to nest, but left, and the ducks are also gone The migrating geese, who always used the pond as a resting place, mostly don’t stop anymore. I would love to see the pond a healthy place again for all the wonderful wildlife who made Bleachery Pond their home.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      Thanks for the update. I agree that it would be great to clean up in there now. One question would be how soft the ground is – is it walkable?

      Reply
      • Reid Willett

        Was anything able to be done to clean the pond while the water level was low?

        Reply
        • Elizabeth McNamara

          I don’t believe so but I will check.

          Reply

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