The Mumford is normally a powerful little river. It’s the largest of the Blackstone’s tributaries.  The Mumford’s wrath has more than once been felt as it overflowed its banks and turned the town into a lake.

Mumford Dam - May 2014

Mumford Dam – May 2014

Mighty no more. The Mumford is barely a stream. Until the dam in Uxbridge, where the river crosses Route 16, the river looks more or less normal.


That’s because the dam contains the water, allowing only a small spillway and a tiny overflow to pass the dam and flow into the Mumford. Immediately in front of the dam, there are a few inches of water — enough to sustain a few small fish that can feed at least one blue heron.

Mumford River - September 2014

Mumford River – September 2014

Just across the overpass formed by Route 16, probably no more than 200 feet from the dam, the river becomes a series of shiny, reflective puddles. Not a river at all. Unable to sustain fish or other water-based life. No turtles. No ducks, geese, or swans.

One heron, waiting for a fish

One heron, waiting for a fish

The drought to which no one is paying attention, which is being ignored by TV stations and newspapers alike, is taking a terrible toll on wildlife. If it doesn’t start to rain soon and steadily, it’s going to take a similar toll on people, especially those of us who get our water from private wells.

Mumford River, just down from the dam

Mumford River, just down from the dam

We all share the same aquifer. Not just in the Blackstone Valley. All over the state and across state lines into Connecticut and Rhode Island. The aquifer, a series of interconnected waterways that run through the base rock of New England, doesn’t know about state lines.


Your well, my well, the wells belonging to my neighbors up and down our street and wherever the aquifer runs … they are all connected. Your well may be on your property, but the water belongs to all of us. Your water use affects me as surely as does the lack of rain.

Pretty reflections in the shallow puddles of the Mumford

Pretty reflections in the shallow puddles of the Mumford

Even if you are on “city water,” where do you think your water comes from? We are the watershed.

The water source is here. If we are drying up, so are you. Whether you know it or not.

As many of you may know, our well recently went dry. It was a chaotic moment for us. We did not have the money to renovate our well. I had no bright ideas. We had one option. I didn’t like it but we didn’t have a choice. We had to ask for financial help. It probably was the most depressing moment of my adult life.

I was surprised by the response. I am still shaking my head in wonderment at the generosity of friends and strangers. We’ve received enough money to schedule the renovation of our well.

Thank you doesn’t seem adequate to convey our gratitude.

Thank you!

Categories: Blackstone River, Blackstone Valley, Dams and Waterfalls, Garry Armstrong, Nature, Photography, River, Water

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

29 replies

  1. After this winter I hope the aquifer replenishes itself., 🙂


    • And it seems to be happening. I sure HOPE so. So far, so good, but we are still very wary and careful about how we use water. At least Whitins Pond isn’t showing bottom any more. Actually, last time I looked, it was solid ice with a lot of snow on top, so I’ll have to go back and see how it as changed.


  2. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


  3. Hooray for a new well! It is indeed sad to look back at pictures of the dam last year or the year before, and look at the ones on this post now. Just sad, all the wildlife affected, not to mention the people. I often wonder why the drought or even drought-like conditions across many areas of the country aren’t mentioned more. I certainly think that topic is more important than most of the stuff that the media makes a big deal about.


    • I don’t get it … and neither does Garry. This is legit news. It ought to be talked about. From fish and turtles, to geese, swans, ducks, herons … they’ve all taken a major hit. Probably also the animals that depend on them for their survival. And the water table and aquifer? I’m grateful we’ll be able to fix our well … but how many others won’t? It is very worrisome. And the drought is SO widespread.


  4. I think that most of the time, if people don’t get immediately and directly affected, they don’t even bother to pay attention to a river that’s gone dry. They just go along with their lives. It’s sad to see that there are such people. We should not judge, but it is important to pay attention to what’s happening around us and try to find solutions together.

    I’m really glad you received financial support from others. It’s good to see people are stil giving a helping hand. It gives hope to this world.

    Wish you a nice day!


    • We will survive thanks to help from friends, real and virtual. I hope we get it done soon. I think it’s really going to rain. Finally. Tomorrow or later today. The forecast says it and the sky is heavy and gray. We probably did the ONE thing that pretty much guarantees heavy rain: planned a vacation. Mind you, we planned this almost a year ago and have been paying for it a bit at a time since last January (when you are on a fixed income, that’s how it works 🙂 ) … but still, it’s like getting the car washed. It more or less guarantees water will fall from the sky 🙂

      Yes, most people don’t even look to the left or right to see what’s there. They drive over the rivers — the rivers are everywhere in the Valley — and never look at them. Maybe I’d be that way too if I didn’t take pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As always this is a thoughtful and well written post. The photos are stunning in the sense that they show the seriousness of the situation. One sentence in your post echoes my thoughts: “The drought to which no one is paying attention, which is being ignored by TV stations and newspapers alike, is taking a terrible toll on wildlife.”
    The fact that always nobody writes well documented articles on the topic of the drought is almost as scary as the drought itself. I traveled recently across very diverse parts of the state of California and was stunned to see the dramatic contrasts between cities and rural places. City people have no idea of the seriousness, although their water comes from the high Sierras. If there is no rain and no snow they will have to limit their use too. So far the landscaped gardens and private yards are still lush while every piece of land elsewhere is so dry it catches fire in no time.
    I am happy to read that people’s help is helping you to cope with your well.
    Again, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Evelyne! We’re still overwhelmed by the response to our plight.


    • It scares me silly. Because while those city people are using water like there’s no problem, there’s a big problem. And it’s all over the place. I think central midwest is one of the few regions not yet affected … but that could change very quickly. I’ve been trying to get some of our news contacts interested, but it’s like shouting into an empty tunnel. I just hear my voice echoing. And meanwhile, there’s no rain. Nor any forecast of rain to come. Nothing at all.


  6. There seems to be a drought in many parts of the country Garry. Oregon streams and rivers are dangerously dry as well. Fortunately we’ll be getting our rainy season in just a few weeks. There are signs Summer’s grip is weakening. We had twice our normal summer days over 90 degrees this year. Thank God the humidity is so low. Even with the one day of rain we got last week the firefighters in our forest fires caught a break.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was just down at our local river tonight, taking pictures, and enjoying a pre-rain picnic with my husband. It is worrisome–I have never seen the river this low. Even as we sat there watching the boats, one sailboat breezing into the docks so prettily got suddenly stuck in the mud (where water should be). Lovely pictures, though, of your outing; and I am so glad to hear that your well can be renovated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a big problem and not just locally. I don’t think a flat raft could navigate our smaller rivers or ponds. They are puddles and mud. Only the Blackstone itself still looks like a river … and how long will that last if we don’t get rain? Gives me the shivers.


    • I left a note for you on your site, but thought I’d add one here. I don’t know where in this world you are. I’m just trying to keep track of where drought is affecting people. I know the west coast is in a bad way, and not just California. The whole northwest and southwest is drying out .. as is New England and parts of the lower East Coast. Deeply worrying.


      • I will be posting some pics later today on my Pollyanna blog from our walk down the river last night. I was pretty shocked to see how low it was; never thought an old Oregonian like me would be longing for some rain but the sooner the better.


    • Thank you for the kind words about the pictures. And, yes, there is a dismal beauty in the mud where once the river flowed. I’m getting a little John Steinbeck here. A question for you, genurosa: Were you a follower of Bob Raleigh’s overnight radio show on WBZ radio? I was. And, I thought he referred to someone with a name that sounded like yours. If wrong, my apologies.


      • ‘A little Steinbeck’ feels quite fitting for a Monday morning. (The mud flows do create artistic patterns, don’t they?) I was not the WBZ follower you are thinking of, however…sounds like I missed out on something special!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, again. I left another query about WBZ radio on your site. Forgive the redundancy. Bob Raleigh used to do movie trivia on his radio show. There was a “Generosa” among his listeners. I was the smarty pants movie maven who knew lots of answers to the trivia questions.


      • Hi Garry.., didn’t realize you were having such a problem with your water supply. While we have also been suffering drought conditions here in the west, but recent torrential rain, in the Phoenix area, have lulled folks into thinking our problems are over. Mankind is truly a wondrous creature for sure, but I wonder whether our meddling with nature, like building dams, do more damage than good. Nature has a way of dealing with its problems but we want to force the issue by building in the path of those solutions. All we need to do is keep our structures outside of these buffer zones and we could exist in harmony.

        How much more do you need to fix your well..??

        Liked by 2 people


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