Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall oversaw the opening of Oyster Pond
and Edgartown Great Pond to the sea on Wednesday, but Thursday's
unfavorable wind and surf conspired to close both openings.
Mr. Bagnall said he may try to make the cuts sometime in January if
he is presented with a good opportunity; otherwise, he will wait until
March. "Now I will take a good look at it," said Mr.
Bagnall, "and keep an eye on the weather."
Edgartown's beloved Great Pond, a delicate balance of fresh
and salt water that has become fragile as a result of the burdens of
development, is at the top of the state's priority list to receive
a comprehensive estuary restoration plan.
"They will essentially hand us the tools for managing the
watershed and an understanding of the mechanics of doing that,"
said Tom Wallace, president of the Great Pond Foundation, a nonprofit
group formed in 1999 to protect the health of the pond.
If the Edgartown Great Pond is to be restored to environmental health, town authorities must find a way to cut nitrogen pollution coming from household septic systems by at least 30 per cent, according to a comprehensive scientific study of the pond’s water quality.
The draft Massachusetts Estuaries Project report on the Edgartown Great Pond obtained by the Gazette last week is required reading for all who live on the Vineyard. The conclusions of the report may be obvious, but no less startling on an Island with a long history of strictly protecting its pristine environment, and they extend well beyond the sandy perimeters of the Edgartown Great Pond: encroaching development and nitrogen escaping from septic systems are polluting Island ponds.
Edgartown wastewater authorities believe a plan to sewer hundreds of homes in the watershed of the Edgartown Great Pond can achieve the 30 per cent reduction in nitrogen pollution required to restore it to health.
A draft report of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project, obtained and published by the Gazette last week, finds the Great Pond’s water quality is significantly affected by heavy nitrogen loading. The biggest single contributor to the problem is household septic systems, the report found.
Landowners around Edgartown Great Pond are looking at buying a half-million-dollar dredge to improve the water quality of their pond, and potentially that of other fresh and salt water ponds on the Island.
As a first step, they will put up between $50,000 and $100,000 to lease the small, easily transported machine to conduct test dredging of the pond this fall. If all goes well, the plan is to buy it and take pressure off the increasingly-overtaxed town dredge.
Experts are mystified by the bloom of an unknown type of algae this summer on the Edgartown Great Pond that has covered acres of the pond’s surface, choking out light to eelgrass beds and then sinking onto shellfish beds.
A sample of the algae was sent this week to the Smithsonian Institution after attempts to positively identify it through records at the Polly Hill Arboretum and through the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were inconclusive.
The Edgartown Great Pond is in trouble, its brackish waters out of balance and at the outer limit of their capacity to carry nitrogen. This is a well-known fact, thoroughly documented in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project draft report for the pond which was obtained by this newspaper, published on its Web site and written about a year ago this summer.
Nessie is not a sea monster but a portable cutterhead dredge, acquired by the Great Pond Foundation to increase the effectiveness of the Edgartown Great Pond’s openings to the sea, which are essential in improving the water quality and health of the pond.