Edgartown selectmen this week approved a trial dredging project with a new piece of equipment some people hope will address not only the Edgartown Great Pond’s water quality issues but also problems with many of the Island’s smaller ponds.

The $500,000 portable dredge called Nessie now will be trucked in from California and, if all goes according to plan, should begin work clearing deposits of sand which have prevented proper flushing of the pond within a month.

The plan has been made necessary by the fact that the town dredge is too heavily committed to clear the pond as often as desired, and is difficult to move in and out of landlocked areas.

Landowners around the pond have chipped in to cover the cost of the 30-day test and are looking at buying the dredge. The prime mover behind the plan, Great Pond Foundation president Tom Wallace, said the bulk of the purchase price already has been pledged.

“Ideally we would like to dredge the delta that has built up [inside the barrier beach], open the pond to the sea for a significant period, then after the breach closes, dredge the channel again, before shipping Nessie back to California,” he said, adding: “If we get proof of the concept we hope to be in a position to say we want to own this piece of equipment.”

The dredge has a combination of features which make it uniquely suited to work in the Island’s ponds, Mr. Wallace said:

“Number one, it is compact and designed to go in and out of the water on a trailer. It is only 20 feet long. Two, it is very low profile, very low height, so if you do truck in to a quiet little pond, you don’t have to remove the entire canopy of trees to get it in there. Three, most dredges sit on top of a barge so things can leak into the sea. Here all the equipment is inside a special lined hull, so a drop of hydraulic fluid or fuel oil is captured. It’s much cleaner.”

He said the lease with the makers would be signed and a deposit sent this week.