Foundry Pond in Foxboro

As seen in this photo taken by Andrea Garcia on Sept. 27, Foundry Pond has been reduced to a few remaining puddles of standing water amid acres of mudflats littered with dying vegetation.

Aging infrastructure and restrictions on upstream flow have turned the town-owned Foundry Pond into a perennial “mudpit” choked with vegetation but little water, local conservation officials were told this week.

Appearing before the conservation commission Monday night, Andrea Garcia of 203 South St. asked for assistance in addressing what she described as unacceptable conditions for residents living on the shallow, man-made lake.

“That photo was taken just last week,” Garcia said, referencing a handout she provided to commission members. “It’s a complete mudpit.”

Garcia, who lives across from the Taylor School, suggested that dwindling water levels in Foundry Pond have been caused by two factors: first, deterioration of an outflow dam spillway; and second, reluctance by homeowners living upstream to release water that could help relieve conditions below.

Beyond the unsightly visuals, Garcia said the lack of water in Foundry Pond has damaged both flora and fauna living there.

Located between South and Prospect streets, Foundry Pond (also known as Factory Pond) is part of a greenbelt system connected upstream to Sunset Lake and Cocasset Lake, which feeds Foundry Pond.

But the water rights to Cocasset Lake are owned by an association of area property owners, and controlled via a dam structure located at a culvert passing beneath Water Street.

Referencing this private ownership scenario, commission Chairman Robert Boette suggested the board’s hands may be tied.

“I’m not sure how much say we have there,” he observed.

Conservation agent Jane Pierce said the Foundry Pond dam structure, which employs removable wooden planks to raise or lower water levels, was overhauled 15 years ago and deemed to be sound as recently as last year.

Like many local ponds — including Neponset Reservoir, Lakeview Pond, Upper Carpenter Pond and others — Foundry Pond was developed by damming rivers to create small reservoirs for 19th-century industrial enterprise.

In fact Jack Authelet, in his 2001 book “Foxborough: Gem of Norfolk County,” said the demand for water power helped shape the town’s early economy. Foundry Pond was created by damming the Cocasset River (also known as Cocasset Brook), north of Mill Street to feed an iron foundry which cast the original sections for the iconic Common fence.

Dams were also built at Lakeview Road, serving a dye shop and wool-scouring mill located nearby, and at Water Street, which provided a source of power for Cocasset Mills — later the Foxborough Cotton Manufacturing Co.

According to Foxboro’s conservation land and open space guide, Foundry Pond’s water rights are owned by the conservation commission, which also owns the Foundry Pond dam.

The Cocasset Lake dam is privately owned by the Cocasset Lake Association, a consortium of lakefront property owners.