The dam at Buffumville Lake lies across the Little River in Charlton, about eight miles northeast of Southbridge and 50 miles southwest of Boston. From Worcester, the dam can be reached traveling south on U.S. Route 395 to exit 4B, then two miles on Charlton Street.
In conjunction with Hodges Village Dam, Buffumville Lake reduces flood levels on the French River in Oxford, Webster, and Dudley, Massachusetts, and Thompson, Connecticut. Buffumville Lake also helps to reduce flooding extending downstream from Putnam, Connecticut, on the Quinebaug River to Norwich, Connecticut, on the Thames River.
Construction of Buffumville Lake started in September 1956 and was completed in June 1958, costing $3 million.
The project consists of an earthfill dam with stone slope protection 3,255 feet long and 66 feet high; a 610 foot long earthfill dike with a maximum elevation of 15 feet; three gated rectangular conduits, each three feet wide, four feet six inches high, and 44 feet long; and a spillway cut in rock with a concrete weir 220 feet long. The weir’s crest elevation is 15 feet lower than the top of the dam.
Buffumville Lake has a peak storage capacity of 5.2 billion gallons to minimize downstream flooding. At maximum storage, the flood control pool rises 42 feet above the normal recreation pool. This flood water is stored on approximately 500 acres of public land. The project has prevented $128.6 million in flood damages since it was built (as of September 2011).
The U.S. Government purchased the rights to store flood waters on another 273 acres of private land. Much of this flood easement lands borders privately-owned Pierpont Meadow Pond.
The Reservoir Control Center (RCC) directs the water regulation activities for 31 flood risk management projects including Buffumville Dam. RCC and Buffumville Dam team members coordinate the use of radio and satellite communications and computer programs to continuously monitor river levels and weather conditions that influence water control decisions. Using these tools and first-hand observations, the Corps of Engineers can rapidly respond to the unpredictable New England weather.
For more information, or for recreation opportunities, call (508) 248-5697 or visit the website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/BuffumvilleLake.aspx.
- Updated: May 5, 2021