May Wine Tasting Event to Benefit SDRA: Another Fundraising Success

On May 20, 2016, Sand Dam Reservoir Association held its second wine tasting fundraiser, this time at the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery in Chepachet. More than 60 people attended the event to support the Association, sample the excellent wines on offer, and enjoy the camaraderie.

There was much more than just wine tasting on this evening!  Four huge tables of appetizers dotted the room. The fare included a hot buffalo cream cheese appetizer, a selection of homemade calzones, fresh mozzarella and tomato skewers, a selection of cheeses, refrigerator lemon squares, brownies, and a nachos/ dip/chips station, among many, many other items.  The entire food selection was donated by very generous SDRA members and guests.

The 50/50 raffle drew a lot of interest, as did a new activity, a Silent Auction. Organized by SDRA Board Member Marissa Danville, the items up for bid included, among others, a collection of beach toys, books for summer reading, accessories for the fisherman in the family, a boat fire extinguisher, a crocheted blanket, a terrarium, and two baskets of wine. Local merchants such as Inland Marine, Kitson’s Liquors, Fredrickson Farms, Smithfield Plumbing, and the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery contributed items to the Silent Auction. Items that drew particular interest were a coat rack, recycled and handcrafted by SDRA Board Member, Eric Lariviere, and a garden implement basket, assembled by SDRA Board Member, Art Searle.

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The Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery is reminiscent of coffee houses of days gone by, with its multiple level seating, sofas, tall tables, and cedar post-and-beam decor. Local musician John Rodgers added to the wonderful atmosphere as he played the guitar and piano and entertained the audience with his melodic voice. We thank the Purple Cat’s owner, Dan, for sponsoring John at the SDRA event.


The wine tasting evening allowed friends of Sand Dam Reservoir Association to relax and socialize for a few hours. Conversations in the tasting room wine bar and in the quiet nooks made the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery a delightful gathering place for the Association’s members and guests and a great way to welcome the high season in New England.

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Thank you to all who participated and contributed to a very successful evening. A special shout-out goes to Ashley Hawkes, who has offered significant public relations help to us for both our wine tasting fundraisers this year.  The Colaluca extended family contributed from the beginning to the end of the event with advanced planning, ticket sales, room set up, yummy food, and cleaning tasks. And we designate SDRA member Brian Sirois for the “Most Tickets Sold Award”—- thanks, Brian, for spreading the word and being such an integral part of our Association!

It is the caring and dedication by all our members and our network of concerned citizens that helps us implement our comprehensive Lake Management Plan for Smith and Sayles Reservoir. We continue to address nuisance weed growth at the lake, and fundraisers like this help our Lake Management Committee to guide the SDRA Board in efforts to improve water quality. Our major goal, to provide sensible and long-term solutions for improving water conditions at the lake, benefits everyone who enjoys the recreational opportunities available on Smith & Sayles while also protecting and improving fish and wildlife habitats.  We came one step closer to our goal on this May evening, thanks to our active membership.

May 20 SDRA Fundraiser at the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery

Please join us for a wine tasting event on Friday, May 20th from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery on 11 Money Hill Road in Chepachet, RI.  Proceeds will benefit Sand Dam Reservoir Association. SDRA is a non-profit organization that works in conjunction with a network of other lakes in Rhode Island to maintain high water quality and reduce invasive plant species.

If you haven’t been to the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery yet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Reminiscent of coffee houses of days gone by, with its multiple level seating, sofas, tall tables, and cedar post-and-beam decor, the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery offers tastings of their wines in a relaxed setting.

And what better time is there than a late spring Friday night in May to gather with neighbors and friends and welcome the high season?

In addition to the wine tasting, the fundraiser evening will include a selection of complimentary appetizers, a 50/50 raffle, and a Silent Auction. To reserve your ticket, just click through to May 20 Wine Tasting RSVP and fill in your name and number of guests.

And thanks for spreading the word through your friends and family network. If it’s anything like the last Wine Tasting fundraiser we held last September, this should be a lot of fun!

Here are the details:

SDRA Wine Tasting at the Purple Cat

Vineyard and Winery

Friday, May 20 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

RSVP to: or

or or

Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery

11 Money Hill Road

Chepachet, RI 02814

(behind the old Purple Cat Restaurant)

purple cat sign

Winter 2016 Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter


Winter Newsletter 2016:  

Looking Ahead to Spring and Summer


Board of Directors’ Updates


Today is a glorious morning— the lake appears to have diamonds sparkling as the waves ripple! Individually, each of us sees something different as we look at OUR lake. But, together, we are moving forward to do what is best for OUR lake.

The teamwork continues, and the membership is growing. I encourage you, if you are not involved, get involved.  There are many areas of concern, and your point of view needs to be heard. Join a committee, become active on the boat inspection team, help plan an event, do some lake research, write a grant, or build a buffer zone in front of your property to eliminate the runoff from your lawn into our lake. This year, there was not a “total” freeze on the lake to kill the milfoil. Therefore, it is more important than ever that you eliminate fertilizing as it “feeds” the weeds as you are “feeding”  your lawn. Please consider not applying nutrients! Thank you!!

Save the Date:  Wednesday, June 15, 2016 is the date for the SDRA Annual Meeting, which will take place at the Glocester Town Hall, Room 9. At the Annual Meeting this year, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and learn from your neighbors what is “happening” around the lake, in the lake, at the bottom of the lake, and the filling of the lake. The  2016 plans will be announced, and an election of officers will take place. Please see news under the Nominating Committee below if you’d like to become a SDRA Board member.  

As always, it is my pleasure to be a member of SDRA and work with others to accomplish its Mission!  Your neighbor,

Judy (

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

We look forward to spring and summer 2016 with an eye towards welcoming new members and welcoming back former members whose membership may have lapsed. If you have new neighbors, please encourage them to contact me ( or 568-2657) so that I can include them on our email/mail list to receive newsletters and important announcements.

Current members are encouraged to send updates of email or USPS mailing addresses. Former members may send dues checks ($50) to SDRA, PO Box 284, Chepachet, RI 02814 to renew membership and ensure continued delivery of SDRA newsletters and announcements.

Treasurer-  Carolyn Fortuna

The first quarter of 2016 has been quite stable financially for SDRA.  Due to a membership drive, we have maintained 100% of members over the past two years.  The most important tasks we designated for 2015 continue ahead for SDRA in 2016: to increase the balance in our treasury so that we can embark on as many sustainability endeavors as possible.  We want to protect and enrich our lake environment, and that, often, comes with associated financial costs.  

As treasurer, I address our financial needs, but I also have a corresponding responsibility to seek out grant possibilities.  A grant proposal with which we have much success is a RI Community Grant.   Due to the continued generosity of Senator Fogarty’s office, SDRA was the recipient of a 2015-2016 Community Grant in the amount of $500.  The proceeds from the Community Grant are directed to the important work our Dam Master does in controlling the lake levels and guiding dam maintenance.   We are always on the lookout for grant opportunities, so please don’t hesitate to forward a grant call for proposals our way, especially if you see a good fit  for SDRA and can help to guide the grant application process.

Another tangent of the SDRA Treasurer’s position is to initiate or collaborate in fundraisers. We are so lucky to have a team of individuals who put in lots of behind-the-scenes hours toward our fundraisers.  Right now, we have two active fundraisers underway… read below to learn more!


Carolyn 🙂 (

May SDRA Fundraiser at the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery

11 Money Hill Road

Chepachet, RI 02814

Friday, May 20 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Tickets: $20 in advance — $25 at the door

RSVP to: or or

Please join us for a wine tasting event on Friday, May 20th from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery on Money Hill Road in Chepachet.  If you haven’t been there yet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Reminiscent of coffee houses of days gone by, with its multiple level seating, sofas, tall tables, and cedar post-and-beam decor, the Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery offers tastings of their wines in a relaxed setting.  And what better time is there than a late spring Friday night in May to gather with neighbors and friends and welcome the high season?

While there will be much more information to follow, we are planning, in addition to the wine tasting, a selection of complimentary appetizers, a 50/50 raffle, and a Silent Auction. Proceeds will help in our goals to reduce invasive milfoil in Smith & Sayles Reservoir.  If you’d like to participate in planning this fundraiser, we would appreciate donations to the Silent Auction and Appetizer tables, assisting in ticket sales, spreading the word through your friends and family network, and/ or offering a helping hand at the end of the night on the cleaning committee.  

Please let us know if you’re able to be part of this fun community-building event. — Marissa and Dennis Danville

To date we have raised $885 through our page, all of which will be used to reduce the invasive milfoil in our lake. This winter has been warmer than average and, thus, creates additional unforeseen challenges in controlling milfoil as the spring season draws upon us. In order for the drawdown to be effective, there needs to be a substantial layer of ice and frozen ground for an extended period of time. Please see the Drawdown news below for more specific information about this winter’s weather effects on our efforts to control invasive species.  No matter the weather, we need to be diligent and proactive in controlling the milfoil, and your contribution to the page helps us to hire divers and buy necessary to hand pull weeds, among other initiatives.

Please continue to share the GoFundMe page, as every dollar counts. Thank you to all of you who donated over the holidays.

Boat Greeter Program – Mary O’Keeffe

Volunteers from SDRA contributed nearly 100 hours of outreach and education to promote proper boater hygiene in order to prevent the spread of invasive species. A total of 44 boaters allowed us to perform complementary inspections at the boat launch (substantially fewer than the 100+boats we inspected during the 2014 season – low water levels led to the cancellation of a number of scheduled tournaments). Plant material was found on 25% of the inspected boats and trailers – while not all plant material was confirmed to be invasive, the high percentage of “dirty” boats reinforces the importance of educating boaters on the critical role of cleaning boats, trailers, and equipment between uses in order to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species.

The 2016 fishing season gets underway April 1st. Soon we will receive a list of this year’s tournaments and schedule times to work the boat launch. We are always looking for new volunteers. On-the-job training is provided and you get to hang out at the boat launch, chat with boaters, and do good works all with the backdrop of our glorious lake. Dates and times will be posted in a future newsletter but if you think you might be interested, don’t wait! Send me an email ( or give me a call (568-2657) and I can send you the RI Boat Greeters’ Handbook to get you started.

Finally, please remember to enforce good boater hygiene for friends and family members who launch from your property, and be sure to practice it yourself. A very small plant fragment can contaminate an entire lake. To date, Smith & Sayles (aka Sand Dam) Reservoir’s only confirmed invasive aquatic species is variable milfoil (and we all know what a problem that is!). Nearby lakes have invasive plants including fanwort, bladderwort, spiny naiad, mudmat, curly leaf pondweed, parrot feather, water chestnut, Eurasian milfoil, and Brazilian elodea. Seven lakes and one river in the state are contaminated with Asian clams, and nearby CT and MA lakes have Zebra Mussels.

Practice and require these simple steps to help protect our beautiful lake:

  • Inspect and clean. Examine boats and trailers before and after any use. Carefully remove any mud, plant or animal material before transporting boats, recreational equipment, fishing gear or equipment.
  • Allow time to dry. Clean and dry anything that came in contact with the water (boat, trailers, recreational equipment, clothing, dogs, etc.)
  • Isolate and drain. Empty water from boat wells and motors far away from lakes and rivers.
  • Discard into trash. Dispose any unused bait into proper garbage receptacles; do not empty bait buckets into the water. Dispose of plant material far from water’s edge.
  • Prevent releases. Avoid disposing plants, fish or animals from aquariums or water gardens into local water bodies.


Drawdown – Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

The drawdown for the 2015-2016 winter is concluded. You may review our records about the drawdown at You may view a lake level visual at

Here is a by-the-numbers summary of the drawdown:

  • The Colaluca family made and recorded 105 lake level measurements.
  • Mike Benoit made and recorded dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Dave Morin made countless adjustments to the low level water outlet to moderate the lake level.
  • Our records indicate there were ten days where the average temperature for the day was at freezing or below and there was no snow or ice covering the exposed lake bed. Both conditions are important for killing milfoil. The chart below illustrates the lake level on the prime freezing days. While the most recent winter was nowhere near as brutal as the winter 2014-2015, we remain hopeful that our hard work results in reduced milfoil.

We recognize that drawdown is not the single, encompassing solution we might like. Yet, we believe in the effort and its proven success at controlling milfoil in the shallower regions of the lake. We hope to conduct another drawdown during the winter of 2016-2017

Keech Pond Liaison – Rico Colaluca

I  talked  with John Holmes at the beginning of February and discussed what Keech Pond has in the works for the coming season. He tells me they are going to study and examine their dam structure and look for any kind of holes which may have been made by little creatures and fill them back in. He informs me  these holes are their main concern as they will weaken the dam.

John also told me their gate is now fully open.

Lake Management Plan – Rico Colaluca

Our Lake Management plan is a revolving door and keeps moving forward with the help of the  lake management team. Please ask a member how you can help.

Nomination and Elections – Rico Colaluca and Steve Hanley

The Nominating Committee would like to hear from you if you have any suggestions prior to our Annual Meeting in June.  This is an opportunity to help your lake Association to grow, flourish, and thrive.  We will be requesting nominations from the floor at the Annual Meeting.  

If you would like to run for office or know someone who does, please inform Steve or Rico.   If you want to join the SDRA Board, please contact Steve Hanley ( or Rico Colaluca (

Save the LakesJudy Colaluca

On April 9th BassPro Shop at Patriots Place will be hosting the second Annual “Celebrate Your Love of Lakes” Day.  Join us for this fun event. This is great opportunity to meet and discuss what is happening on OUR lake with others who care deeply about freshwater. There will be professional  fishermen from neighboring Massachusetts  and Connecticut attending to share some fishing hints.  We hope to see you there and share in the fun.

Save The Lakes will be holding its Annual Meeting on April 28 at the Coventry Senior Center, 6:30 to 8:30 PM, at 50 Wood Street in Coventry. DEM will be discussing their plans for 2016, and Linda Green from the URI Watershed Watch will be presenting.  This will be an interesting and informative meeting. Please join us. Come join our community of lake advocates and learn along with us.  We’d be delighted to see you there.  

Social News

Congratulations to Sammy Hawkes and Ashley Hopkins, who were married in October, 2015.  They are also expecting their first child in July, 2016.  Moreover, best wishes go out to Marissa and Denny Manville, who will add a second child to their wonderful family in 2016.  

Carolyn Fortuna said goodbye to her dad, Andrew Fortuna, who died early in 2016 after suffering a stroke.  On April 2nd, Mrs “B” (Florence Beauregard) will turn 97 years old!  She is looking forward to warm sunny days to sit outside on the deck.  

If you have news that you’d like to share with your lake community, please contact Lynn Kohanski (

December 2015 Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter


Hello from our SDRA President, Judy Colaluca

The seasons do change quickly here at Smith and Sayles! And with weather changes we find ourselves looking at our beautiful lake with different eyes. Around the lake folks are raking up leaves and covering outside furniture preparing for the winter weather.

The slow lowering of the lake is of extreme importance to us as we control the growth of invasive weeds by freezing the ground around the lake.  If  the lake freezes before a blanket of snow, much milfoil will be “killed off” and we will have fewer weeds next summer. A huge thank you goes to Dave, Art, Rico, Mike and others for their daily work of keeping the drawdown on track.  The drawdown is determined by the guidelines set by DEM.

As you work outside please consider best practises for our lake. If everyone does something our lake will continue to be a place of beauty. Please consider: 1) Eliminating the use of fertilizer, 2) Blowing leaves away from the lake, 3) Discontinuing composting next to the water’s edge, 4) Raking the leaves at the water’s edge rather than filling in with soil.  Just a few major suggestions as we continue to protect our lake.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am extremely thankful for where I live and all the beauty that surrounds me. It has always been my pleasure to work with all of you and to serve as a caretaker on our lake. I look forward to 2016 as we work together.  Please feel free to contact me with any comments or ideas.

Enjoy the Holidays! I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.    

Updates from our Treasurer, Carolyn Fortuna

The first quarter of the 2015-2016 fiscal year was very strong for SDRA.

The late September fundraiser at Mulberry Vineyards netted over $1700, and the event had a secondary effect of raising awareness of SDRA’s efforts at sustainable harvesting of invasive milfoil and other species. A membership drive to remind 2014-2015 members to renew returned our total memberships to 29 families.  And — as you’ll see below — the Go Fund Me site is a consistent vehicle for producing revenue for SDRA.

These efforts more than offset our two insurance payments which came due:  1) liability; 2) dishonesty bond.  

Notes about the Drawdown from Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

The drawdown is underway! We hope the weather cooperates by freezing and drying the invasive milfoil weed. You may view a lake level visual at You may also view detailed information about the drawdown at

Upcoming Events Sponsored by SDRA from Judy Colaluca

On Saturday, December 5, SDRA will be holding a clean up at the Dam on Chestnut Hill Road. There will be coffee and “energy food” at 8:30 a.m. at 61 Wood Road before heading to the Dam. The clean up will last about 90 minutes and will be determined by the weather conditions. Please consider working alongside your neighbors. Children are welcome to help as they are tomorrow’s caretakers. Make sure you bring work gloves, rakes,(quahog rakes worked well last year), and hope for a nice day. See you at the Dam!!

Have you heard about Go Fund Me? from Marissa and Dennis Danville

The gofundme page to raise money for a suction harvester has been up for several months now and to date we have raised $770, which is a great accomplishment! Thank you for all your donations. With your help we will be able to rid our lake of invasive species.

Please continue to share the website with friends and family, as every dollar counts. Thank you!  

Looking back to our September Mulberry Vineyards Fundraiser, hosted by Ashley Hopkins Hawkes and Carolyn Fortuna

On a warm late September evening, over 100 people gathered at Mulberry Vineyards on Pound Road in Chepachet for a fundraiser to benefit Sand Dam Reservoir Association.  Guests mingled inside the converted barn of the historic Andrew Brown homestead and outside on the sloping lawns.  Two wine bars were set up, and guests sampled a riesling, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir. Aaron Colaluca ran a fabulously successful 50-50 raffle, and winner Terry Tullis generously donated the proceeds back to SDRA.  Later in the evening, co-owner David Wright offered a tour of the winemaking facilities.mulberry vineyards 2  Thanks to everyone who participated, whether it was to be in attendance or to send along a donation.  We appreciate how many guests contributed items for the delicious appetizer buffet, so that everyone had a sampling of good food.  

It was a wonderful night, and– who knows? — you may see a similar event in spring, 2016.  Keep checking your social media! And many thanks to Gina Colaluca for providing these pictures.

Keeping Up-to-Date with our Lake Management Plan from Rico Colaluca

The drawdown last winter was successful, and the same plan is being duplicated this year. There are plans being developed for improvements at the gatehouse and spillway.  Click the link in the title to this section to learn even more.

Our Networking through Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Spaces (NRI SOS) from Carolyn Fortuna

Part of advocacy efforts conducted on behalf of SDRA over the past quarter has included participation in events sponsored by NRI SOS, which offers support to ten member organizations. We attended a book discussion of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which outlined the positive effects of eating locally.  We hiked the Foster Land Trust property off Windsor Road as part of the “Reading the Forested Landscape” series. And we attended a Cider Tasting at Barden Orchards alongside representatives of several local sustainability organizations. One of those organizations was the Glocester Land Trust, and our networking that day produced an invitation to attend the next GLT meeting to speak about SDRA’s efforts to protect our lake habitat.  

Wish us luck on December 8 during our GLT presentation…

Thinking Ahead to Nomination and Elections from Steve Hanley and Rico Colaluca

We encourage you to become involved in the operation of your lake Association. Please let the Nominating Committee know if you’re interested in serving in the upcoming year as a committee head, board member, or officer.  Getting involved is fun and rewarding!

Checking in with Save the Lakes from Judy Colaluca

Save The Lakes continues to support and improve all lake associations across the state. There will be bills at the Legislature that will be of importance to all in the Spring. Information will be sent out as details emerge.


September 2015 Newsletter

Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter

September, 2015


Board of Directors’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

What a great summer it has been here on Smith and Sayles!!  All recreational endeavors around and in OUR lake are just wonderful this summer!!  One of my most favorite activities is to listen to my grandchildren laugh as they splash and play in the water. What fun they have!! All the “kids,” young and old, have something they enjoy doing in the lake. For example, catching the biggest fish, swimming the furthest or doing the craziest stunt on the tube, and more are reasons to work hard at keeping our lake in perfect condition.

The awarding of the grant for a suction harvester should be known soon and that will be just another tool for us to “Protect” our lake. The team effort on this lake is terrific- but we could always use more hands to lighten the load. If you want to be active, just let me know. Help is needed to:

  • 1) Assist the divers in weed pulling on September 19th — work on boats, cleaning up, financial donations;
  • 2) Boat Inspection Program– checking boats to make sure no other invasive weed is introduced into our lake;
  • 3) Planning educational workshops for landowners to improve their land without fostering weeds;
  • 4)  Grant searching and writing;
  • 5)  Planning a fall clean up on Chestnut Hill Road;
  • 6) Fund raising- be sure to reserve a ticket for our wine tasting at Mulberry Vineyards here in Chepachet and check out —- and others as your ideas develop.

As the summer winds down -Enjoy the Lake!! Contact a member of the SDRA Board with your suggestions concerns, ideas, and your willingness to join your neighbors for the improvement of OUR lake.

On Saturday, August 29, Mary, Art, Rico, several STL members, and I went  to Hickory Hills Lake to watch a suction harvester in action! It was fascinating  and much easier to operate than I had thought. There will be more information coming on this machine.  

See you around the lake,


Vice President – Lynn Kohanski

I hope everyone is enjoying their last few weeks of summer on the lake.  We have a lot of great ways to continue to help the lake thrive as Autumn quickly approaches.  How about getting a few close family and friends together to attend an SDRA-sponsored wine tasting at Mulberry Vineyard? This is a great event to socialize and support our SDRA lake community and also a great kick-off to the fall season.  

Also, thanks to the Danville’s for setting up an SDRA gofundme page.  This is another easy way to help us reach our goal of $30,000 to get a new suction harvester for the lake. Please share the link/page recently sent out.  Again, with all the wonderful things happening here,  I encourage everyone to get involved in any way they feel comfortable. I hope to see/meet you at one of our events.

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

The 2015 annual meeting was a great success, with 30 SDRA members and friends in attendance. New for this year’s meeting was a 6-7pm social hour to provide friends and neighbors with an opportunity to “catch up” before the meeting. Our President (Judy) and Treasurer (Carolyn) put out an excellent spread of hors d’oeuvres and desserts (with other SDRA members also contributing tasty snacks). Also, as part of this community building effort, Vice President (Lynn) brought a large map of the lake and members worked together to identify “who lives where.” This year’s meeting was held at Glocester Town Hall. The meeting space, internet access (for presentations), and kitchen facilities were excellent, and we hope to hold future SDRA annual meetings at Town Hall.

The formal meeting ran from 7-9pm. Officers and Standing Committees made their reports, and a motion to change the SDRA By-Laws was approved. The main substantive By-Laws changes were to impose a two-year term limit on SDRA officers and reduce the residency requirement from 3 years to 1 year for the Directors. These changes are designed to promote active involvement from a wider range of members. Special thanks was given to Janice Baker, Rico Colaluca, Carolyn Fortuna, Dave Morin, and Art Searle for their extensive committee work, and, of course, to Judy Colaluca for her outstanding leadership as SDRA president.

New business included  a report from Judy and Art on the ESS (Environmental Consulting and Engineering Services) survey results, discussion of the Mulberry Vineyards fundraising event (see notice later in the newsletter), and an invitation to Sand Dam Day, hosted this year by Carolyn Fortuna and Steve Hanley.

As you can see, we had a wonderfully productive and enjoyable time together. Be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s SDRA annual meeting which will be held Wednesday, June 15th.

Treasurer-  Carolyn Fortuna

Our SDRA Annual Meeting in June gave attendees a convenient way to pay their 2015-2016 dues.  Twenty-one families paid dues of $50 each, which boosted our bank balance considerably.  

If you paid dues during our Spring 2015 Membership Drive, thank you.  Your contribution allowed you to have a vote and voice at our Annual Meeting. Please remember: Our new fiscal year begins on July 1— after the Annual Meeting.  If you did not pay dues at the Annual Meeting or since, you may not be caught up for the new SDRA year.  If you have any questions as to your dues currency, please feel free to email me at I’ll be happy to check the records and get back to you.  

I’ll be sending out membership letters and renewal forms over the next month as well. Please mail your dues to SDRA, PO Box 284, Chepachet, RI 02814.

Standing Committees

Boat Greeter Program – Mary O’Keeffe

The GREAT (Greeting Recreationalists to Empower and Train Boaters) Boat Greeter program has been active this summer, providing education and outreach to address the problem of invasive species. In addition to the focus on invasive species common in the area (e.g., variable milfoil, fanwort, inflated bladderwort, Asian clam), we’ve also been talking to boaters about Largemouth Bass Virus, which has been found this summer in Echo Lake and Olney Pond. LMBV is spread through water and can live for up to 7 days. This reinforces the critical importance of proper boater hygiene (especially cleaning live wells, bags, and equipment) in order to keep our lake and wildlife healthy.

We have two remaining tournament dates for the season, Thursday, September 17th (4 pm start time) and Sunday, September 20th (6am start time). We’d love to have you join us if you are interested in seeing us in action and/or getting some on-the-job training.

Dam Master – Dave Morin

It has been a very, very easy summer to maintain the water levels at our lake, as we’ve had no significant rains.  I’ve not had to go down on the water levels since the very beginning of the summer, in late May, when we had rains.  Since then, the normal amount of seepage has occurred to meet DEM requirements.

Over Columbus Day Weekend, we’ll begin drawing the water down.  We already have a head-start on it with the low rain levels this summer.  As the water goes down, we open up more.  Our ability to regulate the water levels also depends on Keach Pond’s plan to open up.  We try to start before they do, to compensate for having to get rid of their water.  Bertha Bedard is very helpful in letting us know when the water is flowing out of Keach. Eventually, we go over to the old dam and slide gate.  We play around with that until we get the level down to where we want it to be.  It all depends on the rain and snow that we get.  Hopefully, before the freeze, we’ll have it down to the 54” mark.

Drawdown – Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

The annual drawdown will begin October 10, 2015, during Columbus Day weekend. We expect to drawdown approximately 1 to 2 inches per day until we reach our permitted drawdown depth of 54 inches. RI DEM, ESS Group’s June 2015 report, and our own visual inspections of the lake indicate that the drawdown helps control the growth and spread of milfoil. It is apparent that there are fewer patches of milfoil and that the patches are less dense than they were during the summer of 2014. We expect to meet with Brian Moore, DEM’s Office of Water Resources Chief during the fall to present the results of last winter’s drawdown.

Once the drawdown begins, we will provide a link so that you can monitor aspects of the drawdown such as lake level and other environmental conditions. If you would like to participate by taking lake measurements of dissolved oxygen measurements, we would love to hear from you. Contact us at your convenience if you have additional questions.

Our Next SDRA Event: Wine Tasting at Mulberry Vineyards— Ashley Hopkins and Carolyn Fortuna

On Friday, September 25, 2015, from 6-9:00 p.m., SDRA will host a Wine Tasting at Mulberry Vineyards, 95 Pound Road, Chepachet.  Come join us as we attempt to raise funds to reduce invasive weeds on our lake.  Tickets are $15 each ahead of time and can be reserved through or  Tickets are $18 the night of the event. Appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages also will be served. Please share the flyer above and general announcement with family, friends, co-workers, and others who might be interested in a friendly night out for a really good cause. Think about it:  if each SDRA member sold 5 tickets, we’d have a strong showing of commitment for DEM. We’d demonstrate that we have local capacity and are ready to provide matching funding for our suction harvester grant application.

Help us to sustain our lake and to help other lake association to understand how environmentally sound approaches to lake management can make arise from innovation and teamwork. Come be part of our Mulberry Vineyards Fundraising event.  Thanks!

Other Fundraising– Marissa and Dennis Danville

The gofundme website is now up and running. We have already received several donations towards our goal of $30k for a suction harvester. Please share the following link with friends and family:

You can also share this on Facebook and twitter by visiting the site and clicking share or tweet, this is a great way to reach a large number of people quickly!!

Keech Pond Liaison – Rico Colaluca

I met with John Holmes recently and informed him of a need to start draining our lake before Keech Pond drains into our lake. He told me to call him when we begin to start draining our lake and he  will give us a few days before he begins to drain Keech Pond. I  stated we will start our drawdown on Columbus Day Weekend.

Lake Management Plan – Sam Hawkes

Divers Weed Pulling-— Saturday, September 19, 2015 is the date currently scheduled to have certified scuba divers return to the lake to pull invasive weeds this year. There will be 2 divers coming with full diving gear ready to work for the day. There is currently no cost associated with this activity; however, we will be providing the divers with a token of our gratitude (yet to be determined, although there’s talk of revisiting last year’s pizza party hit).

There are several activities and supplies that will need to be procured in preparation for the divers to make their time as efficient and effective as possible. Tow and haul boats, tarps, and volunteers will be greatly appreciated. This should be another great chance to build SDRA comradery! More details to come.

Water Testing — Myles and Deb Silva

Water testing this year has gone well. We have installed a new water test mooring at the north end to make our test results more repeatable. The water appears very clear with  visibility to three meters. The high  temperature as of yesterday is a warm 84 F.

Save the Lakes – Judy Colaluca

Save The Lakes was awarded a Resolution in the Senate Chambers at the RI State House this past June.  How exciting to know that RI state leaders are supporting actions that concern freshwater across our beautiful state. The cesspool bill past this term and that benefits all lakes and ponds. There will be more educational workshops in the coming months. Check out the wesite

Website and Education – Steve Hanley and Carolyn Fortuna

If you couldn’t be attendance for our annual Sand Dam Day festivities, check out the article Steve wrote on the Sand Dam Reservoir Association website:  “Sand Dam Day 2015 A Smashing Success!”  

Are you part of the network of 215 individuals who follow our website?  If not, it’s easy to do! Go to our website at  On the Home page, in the right hand margin, you’ll see the bold title invitation to Follow This Blog. Click on it and fill in the information requested. After that, every time we send out a notice of What’s Happening at SDRA, you will get an email with the update.  It’s really easy to stay in touch this way with SDRA.  

The website contains lots of pages of information about our Association and the lake itself.  You can find documents relating to our lake management plan, all the announcements and articles we’ve posted, a history of our Association, descriptions of the lake itself, and much more.  The website is a good resource, one that is always evolving and changing — with your help!  If you have something that you’d like to see included on our SDRA website, please send it along to or

Mulberry Vineyards Wine Tasting on September 25

Mulberrry Vineyards Flyer SDRA


Help support Sand Dam Reservoir Association’s endeavors to reduce invasive weeds on our lake.  It will be a fun evening of good appetizers, conversation, and — of course! — wine.  Come along and share in the fun, just as the foliage begins to turn. Check out Mulberry Vineyards at their website here.

Reserve your place by contacting or

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Sand Dam Day 2015 A Smashing Success!


On July 25, 2015, almost 30 SDRA members and their guests spent the afternoon together at the Blueberry Pointe home of Steve Hanley and Carolyn Fortuna. We had the gift of Goldilocks weather – not too hot, not too cold, just right – while we enjoyed good conversation and scrumptious food on the deck.

This year was marked by the return of the traditional Sand Dam Reservoir boat parade, led by Rico and Judy Colaluca. They were joined by son Aaron and daughter in law Gina, who piloted a floating picnic table designed and built by Aaron and powered by an antique 2 horsepower outboard motor.

DSC00638Shortly thereafter, Steve and Cathy Hopkins arrived with their son Scott aboard their pontoon boat called Evelyn’s Dream, named after Steve’s mother and long time lake association member, Evelyn Hopkins. No sooner had they arrived, then Dennis and Marissa Danville pulled up to the beach with their infant son Tre. Next, Ernie and Sharon Heon brought their own pontoon boat with neighbor John Guertin serving as first mate.

The food was just getting set up in the kitchen when Terry Tulles , Connie Worthington, and daughter-in-law, Barb arrived in their canoe, which Terry had admittedly hosed off to remove the spider webs for the occasion. They were joined by grandson, Will, who was home from college in Iowa, alongside in a bright yellow kayak and NRI SOS members Elaine Fontaine and her husband Allen.

Ron & Janice Baker brought a crock pot filled with delicious homemade seafood chowder, then Lucy Collins stopped by and brought long time lake resident Pat LeClair with her. It was great to see both of them again.

Scavanger HuntCarolyn’s Scavenger Hunt kept everyone mingling and chatting as we all tried to figure out who caught the biggest fish ever on Sand  Dam Reservoir, who had lived on the lake 72 years, who once drove in the Alps, or played hockey in high school.

Everyone enjoyed homemade turkey chili and cornbread, taquitos, fresh baked pumpkin bread, deviled eggs, buffalo dip, pita appetizers, watermelon, and several homemade desserts. The atmosphere was warm and friendly all afternoon as we caught up with our neighbors on the lake after a long, harsh winter.

In the end, the runabouts, pontoon boats, floating picnic tables, canoes, and kayaks all departed for home. It was a great day with friends, one that allowed us to share the joy of living on our beautiful lake.

We hope events like this will continue to strengthen the bond of friendship between all lake residents, and we encourage others to join our organization in the future.

Sand Dam Day, Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dear Neighbors,
Before celebrating Sand Dam Day at  Carolyn and Steve’s House Saturday, July  25 at 4 PM, Rico and I will be leading a boat parade around the lake as we did about 30 years ago. So, decorate up your boat and be ready to sail, float, row, paddle, or motor around the lake. A boat is a vehicle that goes on water— you decide.
The boat parade will form at 3:30 sharp at the Colaluca floating blue dock in front of the house. We will travel around the lake, landing at Carolyn and Steve’s dock.  If you would rather, you may join in the parade as we pass your property or go directly to their house.
See you soon,


Sand Dam Day 2015

Annual Meeting Reminder

Sand Dam Reservoir Association

Annual Meeting

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Glocester Town Hall

Social hour 6- 7 p.m., Business meeting 7-9 p.m.

All are welcomed.


Sand Dam Reservoir Association Newsletter, June, 2015

Board of Directors’ Updates

President- Judy Colaluca

Warm summer breezes, reflections of diamonds dancing on the lake, and cool evenings are only a few of the wonders of lakeside living.  Wonderful- summer has begun!! Here is our most important annual SDRA event; I hope to see you all there….

Annual Meeting for SDRA, Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Glocester Town Hall, Main Street

6 p.m. (social hour), 7 – 9 p.m. (business meeting)

The meeting will begin with a refreshment hour from 6 p.m.-7 p.m.  This is a great opportunity to “Catch Up” with your neighbors and learn the recent neighborhood  news.

The business meeting will promptly convene at 7 p.m.. At the business meeting, “ALL” have the right to express ideas and concerns respectfully, but, to vote, you must have paid your dues for the 2014-2015 year.

Agenda items include new neighbor introductions, reports of the officers and standing committees, Lake Management Plan overview, fundraising, election of officers, Sand Dam Day plans, and new business.  You’ll have an opportunity to see where you can get more involved.

I hope to see you on June 17, 2015 for the Annual Meeting.

Vice President- Lynn Kohanski

First of all, as a newly elected vice president, I would like to extend my thanks to SDRA board for welcoming me into the board of directors.I also would like to encourage all SDRA members to become more active participants in what our association has to offer. If you have not been involved, I would like to encourage you to reconsider joining or rejoining the association.  We have a lot of great things happening in the near future. There are multiple opportunities available to get involved including dam clean-up, boat ramp greeting/ inspection, lake management, and fundraising. Again, thank you, and I look forward to meeting everyone at one of our upcoming events or at the annual meeting on June 17 at the Glocester Town Hall.

Secretary- Mary O’Keeffe

The SDRA Board continues to meet regularly. A major campaign has been to update the list of residents on the lake and encourage all residents, new and old, to become active dues-paying members of the Sand Dam Reservoir Association. We are blessed with a beautiful lake and a wonderful Association. There are opportunities for involvement to suit every temperament, from education and outreach at the boat launch to fundraising, grant writing, dam clean-up, and even community weed-pulls. We hope everyone will consider getting involved. If you have contact information for a new neighbor or anyone who would like to receive our mailings, please forward it to

Treasurer and Fund Raising-  Carolyn Fortuna

The SDRA treasury has remained quite stable over the last fiscal quarter, with several families renewing their memberships.  We have received approval of our State Legislative Grant, which we applied for mid-winter, with the goal to help fund the important responsibilities of our dam master.  Additionally, the Board of Directors collaborated diligently at our May meeting to refine working language toward our application of the DEM and State of RI 2015 Bay and Watershed Grant.  Here is our statement of project purpose.  Keep your fingers crossed!

“After nearly ten years attempting to control nuisance aquatic vegetation, including the exotic invasive variable-leaf milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) from Smith and Sayles Reservoir in Chepachet, RI, Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA) has identified a more efficacious method to pull from the bottom of the lake — root and all: a Suction Weed Harvester that we will purchase, maintain, and employ ourselves in conjunction with Save the Lakes (STL).”

SDRA is actively considering other grant opportunities and fundraising events.  If you’d like to get involved, please contact me at

Reports of the Standing Committees

Boat Greeter Program – Mary O’Keeffe

The Boat Greeter (aka Voluntary Inspection) Program will get into full-swing in July, in time for the busy fishing tournament season. Of the 14 tournaments scheduled on Smith and Sayles for summer 2015, eight will be held in July. Last year we were able to talk with lots of friendly boaters and inspected well over 100 boats. About 20% were found to have aquatic hitchhikers upon arrival at the boat launch. Educating boaters about the importance of proper boater hygiene is an important first-line of defense in our efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. We also hope to work with our friends on Keech Pond to establish an active Boat Launch Greeter Program on that lake.  If you are interested in learning more about our Boat Greeter Program, please email me at

By-Laws– Janice Baker

Please review the proposed changes to the SDRA By-Laws at this link.  We will be voting on the By-Laws at the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 17.

Lake Management Plan

Dam Master – Dave Morin

In the spring, we conduct daily monitoring of the lake water level.  Using a series of marks near the dam, we assess where we are above or below our targeted level.  At this writing, we are 5” over our usual level due to recent rains.  We will open the gate up again as needed. Our current level is at about 46 inches with a summer goal between 40-41 inches.

Drawdown – Judy Colaluca and Art Searle

Preliminary results of the May 28 lake survey conducted by ESS Group, Inc. suggest that our drawdown program to combat variable leaf milfoil continues to yield positive results. In a brief communication with Judy Colaluca, Mat Ludwig, project scientist with ESS Group Inc.,  stated:

We did find some patches of variable-leaf milfoil. These patches were exclusively found in deeper water, which suggests that the drawdown program has been effective in controlling growth in the shallows.

The drawdown team is happy that the hard work of coordinating, measuring, lifting, hauling, and closely monitoring the lake level is having a positive impact in our lake’s overall condition. With guidance from The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, we hope to continue the drawdown program during the 2015-2016 winter months.

Keech Pond Liaison – Rico Colaluca

John Holmes closed the valve to the Keech Pond dam in early April.  He said that all looks good on Keech Pond, with the exception that there are mole and chipmunk holes on their dam.  If water were to enter the dam, it could damage the integrity of the dam.  They will be landscaping around the dam to alleviate the pest problem, including cutting down brush around the dam and looking for a replacement weed to cover the dam.

Northern Rhode Island Supporters of Open Spaces— Carolyn Fortuna

SDRA attended the NRI SOS gathering on Saturday, April 11 as local sustainability liaison. With the theme of “Conversations about Conversation,” the Annual Meeting at the Greenville Library featured an informal discussion on conservation farming led by Kate Sayles, Agriculture & Forestry Technician for NRICD. Sayles offered many ideas about reclaiming farmland, which translated to a deeper appreciation for soil management at our own properties.

Save the Lakes – Judy Colaluca

Save the Lakes continues to strive to protect, preserve, and improve all freshwater in the state of Rhode Island. The Boat Inspection Program is off to a busy start. This year an intern from Bryant College will be working with us to further develop the program in co-operation with DEM.  Also, recently an informational meeting was held with DEM.  All freshwater is important get involved.  Many hands make light work and get things done.

Sunshine Fund– Carolyn Fortuna

It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to our longtime lake friend, neighbor, and SDRA advocate, Frank Searles.  Frank augmented the pride he felt for the outdoors and gardening with continued support for SDRA and its initiatives.  He loved sharing ideas with lake neighbors at many, many Sand Dam Days over the years.  He will be missed.

WebsiteCarolyn Fortuna

Our Association website is located at  One tab is called “What’s Happening” and contains SDRA’s quarterly newsletter.  Together, the website and newsletter have been a productive mechanism for the SDRA Officers and Board of Directors to get information to our members, other lake associations, and individuals with an interest in lake management. We currently have 121 followers; are you one?  If not, log into the website and enter your email address where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

You’ll get a virtual tour of the SDRA website and its features at our annual meeting on June 17, 2015.

Final thoughts –

Be Proactive.

UNLESS someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.

-The Lorax

Remember to Save the Date for the SDRA Annual Meeting,

outlined by our By-Laws to take place on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.