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Ponds in Peril

by Bruce Rosinoff

Everything you ever wanted to know about Vineyard ‘s coastal ponds, but did not know who to ask will be answered this summer. If you want the complete and unadulterated facts, both positive and negative, concerning some of our most important water resources be sure to attend the VCS Clean Water Initiative Forum. The forum will be held on July 29th at the Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs at 7:00 pm and will be the finishing piece to the Society’s year-long program to educate Vineyards about water quality in general with an emphasis on the ponds. The Clean Water Initiative is paid for by a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust.
Algea in the Edgartown Great Pond, Summer 2008

The initial piece of the program will cover the importance of groundwater as the source of our drinking water, but also its importance to the ponds. The distinction between freshwater and salt water ponds will be discussed together with the importance of the surrounding land area, or watershed, that is hydrologically connected to the ponds. Why is the size of the watershed relative to the size of the pond a critical factor in water quality? Come and find out. Also, come and learn why the same amount of nitrogen is so much more detrimental to a coastal pond than it is to your own drinking water.

Learn what sources of pollution are the greatest threats to the health of the ponds, and how every homeowner may be contributing much or a little to the overall condition. You will now understand the difference between bacterial contamination and nitrogen contamination and why the remediation measures for each are so different. It appears from reading the papers that Sengekontacket Pond is badly contaminated because it has high bacterial counts and is closed to shellfishing.  But is it really that far gone? Sorry, no answers here. Come to the forum and find out.

We will present two panels in addition to the general information that will focus in detail on septic systems and growth. Septic systems can be highly effective and efficient in some ways, but terribly deficient in other ways. What is really going on underground with these things. Do you even know where yours is? Would you be willing to spend a lot of money on a new advanced system to help protect your nearby pond? Attend the forum and get the facts.

Our ability to control growth will be the key to whether we are able to protect our ponds.  We are trying to remediate the sources of pollution that presently contaminate the ponds and it is a very difficult and expensive proposition. However, even if we succeed in our efforts, if we do not also
 manage the one third of Martha’s Vineyard that can still be developed, we will still be pushed  beyond the tipping point. Come and listen to how growth could be controlled and join in the discussion. This is a critical question.

The forum will be held on July 29th at the Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs at 7:00 pm