Sugarbush is making significant progress in restoring its snowmaking pond located on the Mad River near Kingsbury Farm so that it will be ready for snowmaking in November.


The pond sustained severe damage on August 28 when Tropical Storm Irene caused extreme flooding causing the Mad River to rise over the southern (upstream) banks of the snowmaking pond filling it with additional water.

The integrity of the entire north (downstream) end of the pond, including the engineered spillway at the northwest corner, was maintained throughout the event and while the river flowed over the north edge of the pond, the spillway and embankment remained intact and retained all of the pre-flood water in the pond. 

The high flood waters eroded the southern banks during the storm and the Mad River eventually changed course and flowed directly into the snowmaking pond causing the water to remain higher than normal and depositing gravel, silt and other debris into the pond. 

Although there was erosion of the riverbank between the river and the south end of the pond, there was no dam failure and no impounded water was released. The flood was of epic proportions and produced water levels rivaling the flood of 1927. Peak river flow at the Moretown gauging station was 19 feet above normal river levels and about 50 percent higher than the peak flow during the flood of 1998.

The Sugarbush snowmaking pond sustained less damage than during the 1998 event. In 1998 there was significant damage to the pond spillway; however, the spillway structure that was redesigned and rebuilt in 1998 maintained its integrity during Irene. 

Following ANR emergency repair guidelines, Sugarbush has been in close consultation with state officials and was able to restore the Mad River to its original course by Thursday, September 1. Now, the task will be to de-water the pond and then remove the accumulated material so that the pond can be refilled to pre-flood depth.  

At the same time, other repairs to the facility to address flood-related damage are also being made. Sugarbush continues to be in close communication with the Agency of Natural Resources and other governmental bodies and is confident that snowmaking operations will not be impaired this winter.

Sugarbush president Win Smith said, “While the damage to our pond is very costly and significant resources will have to be applied to repair the pond, Sugarbush suffered far less than other businesses and residences in The Valley and around Vermont. For that reason, we feel very fortunate and are working to help our neighbors in all ways that we can.”

Sugarbush is also working with members of the community to put together a benefit concert over Columbus Day weekend to raise money for the Community Fund and other relief efforts.