Historical Photo Martins Pond of Yesterday

Old timers have been telling us for years that the pond used to be much lower, that they once had a beach which is now gone, and that they did not flood in the old days.

This 1930’s skating party photo at the Kittredge’s house on Batchelder seems to support the claim.

Notice water levels here in the 2007 color photo.  Water levels in Martins Pond were were about 74.5 feet above sea level.  If you compare the cracks in the rock shown it looks like a conservative estimate of 3 feet difference from the 1930’s photo.  That would put pond levels at 71.6, which we have never seen since we’ve been monitoring.  The lowest we saw during the August 2005 (?) drought was about 73.5.  (fyi-that’s in USGS feet above sea level)

The alterations to Benevento’s Sand and Gravel in the 40’s and 50’s we are told by some old timers now passed on, turned the cranberry bog behind Town Hall to Burroughs (over 100 acres) , into a permanent wetland surrounding Martins Brook.  Many times Fran Mitchell told us he used to play football out there in the summer.  Many elderly people have told me the same story.

Tons of sediment has been filling in the pond and the channel for 80 years since this photo.  Malcolm Pirnie estimated that over 10 tons of sediment per year from outfalls on Batchelder and Poplar alone.  Under our current grant we expect to cut that number by at least half with the new hydrodynamic separator on Batchelder, and porous pavement, and improvements to Poplar.

This is why we must be so diligent about curbing sedimentation of the pond and up in the Skug River which also pours in sediment from road runoff in the watershed constantly.  Roadways must be swept more often. We also have to be sympathetic to  low lying homes who flood now all too often and do everything we can to try to keep water levels low.

The bridge at Route 62 stops up water during floods, and hopefully will finally get funded to be opened up this year.  Unfortunately it is extremely unlikely that all the sediment that has poured into the pond for 80 years will ever be removed.  Dredging of the pond would not fix that problem, as dredging to bring back the 1930’s conditions would require doing it all the way from the pond down to at least Route 62.  Not feasible.

So we continue our work at improving the quality and reducing the sediment contained in stormwater runoff that reaches Martins Pond and the Ipswich River.  The Town of North Reading, Merrimack, and the Martins Pond Committee are partnering on our 3rd project to continue to put rainwater in the ground in North Reading, instead of letting the storms transport more pollution to our waterways.  It is a long and arduous process, and it involves all of us.  We hope to inform everyone that handling your own rainwater on your own property may not seem like a lot of runoff stopped, but if every private property infiltrated its own runoff, especially that containing fertilizer, and kept buffers along rivers, streams and ponds healthy, we could all combined take a bite out of stormwater pollution.

The Town will soon be directed to improve it’s roadway stormwater through new tougher regulations, as will large commercial properties like WalMart, but the small private homeowner and business are not yet regulated.  We are hoping with our new programs to solicit volunteer runoff reduction.

On this memorial day, remember the old days, and work towards a better future.  Thank you for all you have done already!

Thank you,

Janet Nicosia, Co-Chair

Martins Pond Association

Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee



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