A Dredge With Potential

Over the years, private individuals and organizations have stepped forward on the Vineyard to protect a special place or address an Island concern. The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, which owns or holds conservation restrictions on more than two thousand six hundred acres of precious Vineyard habitat, and Vineyard House, which operates sober houses on Island for people fighting the disease of alcoholism, each sprung from individuals who decided to take action rather than allow natural resources to be threatened or a sad human situation to further deteriorate.

Now comes welcome news of an idea from a private foundation that ultimately could help ponds around the Island.

The Great Pond Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the water quality of Edgartown Great Pond, has proposed putting forward between fifty thousand and one hundred thousand dollars to lease a small machine to conduct test dredging of the great pond this fall.

If the tests go well, the foundation is prepared to buy the dredge, which carries a half-million price tag, as a permanent tool to improve the pond’s water quality. The foundation also would raise funds to cover the machine’s continuing operation.

While Edgartown has a town dredge, the machine is in much demand. Four years have passed since the dredge last was used in the great pond.

Cuts have been made in the barrier beach several times a year to allow an exchange of water with the ocean, but sand deposits inside the pond have curtailed water flow and limited the effectiveness of that exchange. As a result, one foundation member has characterized water quality in the great pond as at an all-time low.

In the absence of the town dredge, the smaller dredge looks like a tool whose time has come.

In fact, the small dredge could offer advantages over the larger town dredge. Given its size, that of a medium-sized boat, the smaller dredge could get to spots inaccessible to the town dredge. The smaller machine also can be used to remove water weeds.

Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said the machine also is small enough to be placed on a trailer and taken to other ponds on the Island not accessible to the larger dredge, such as Mill Pond in West Tisbury and Crystal Lake in Oak Bluffs.

Bill Wilcox, water resource planner at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, also sees the value of a portable dredge to address pond problems around the Island.

Make no mistake: the small dredge, if successful, will improve matters for those who live and own property along Edgartown Great Pond. But here apparently is another example of a single private Vineyard inititiative whose benefits may eventually reach around the entire Island.