Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee

History of the Reclamation Study Committee

Excerpts from History of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee and Martins Pond Association by Lida Jenny, 2000

1981-Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee is formed

In 1981, the North Reading Board of Selectman appointed the first members of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee to develop a reclamation plan for Martins Pond – the town’s greatest natural resource and primary recreation facility.

Homes around the pond originally built for seasonal use are now mostly year round homes – causing more stress on the pond. In mid-1981, the town’s new water treatment facility, located adjacent to the pond, went on-line to bring improved quality water to much of the town.

1982-Committee applies for funding

In 1982 the committee applied for state assistance following Chapter 628, The Clean Lakes and Great Pond Act.

1983-Funds Awarded

During 1983, the town was awarded 33M from this program. An additional 17M in matching funds was appropriated at the April 1983 Town Meeting. These funds were utilized for a comprehensive diagnostic/ feasibility study (40M) and a short-term maintenance program (10M).

1985-Diagnostic/Feasibility Study

The study, completed in December 1985 by Lycott Environmental Research, Inc. and Anderson-Nichols, Inc., contains three sections: a Diagnostic Study, a Feasibility Analysis and Appendices.

The first section contains 52 pages of data including twelve tables and fourteen figures detailing the pond’s description, history and physical characteristics, and nutrient budget within the overall watershed.

The second section consists of 38 pages including six tables and six figures analyzing structural watershed and in-lake alternatives for maintaining and improving the pond and non-structural management strategies.

The final section consists of 90 pages of addenda including bibliography, watershed protection and water quality data.

The study determined that the pond is shallow, eutrophic (gradually filling in), phosphorus limited, and it has a short retention time (annual average is 18 days. The pond is really a widening of the Skug River that enters it. The pond empties into Martins Brook, which winds its way to the Ipswich River in North Reading.

The study recommended the following:

1) watershed management
2) pressurized sewer system for homes around the pond (very expensive)
3) nutrient inactivation
4) creating a pond/lake association

The completion of the study enabled the town to apply for funds from the state’s Lake Restoration Program to implement some of the recommendations.

1985 Alum Treatment

The pond was treated with alum in June 1985 and again in August 1987 for the purpose of removing nutrients (phosphorus) from the water thus reducing the potential for algae blooms. The first treatment, by Aquatic Control Technology, improved the water clarity making recreational activities more enjoyable. Lycott Environment Research, Inc did the second treatment. Beginning in early 1986, the state DEQE began monitoring water quality in the pond monthly to compare data with and without alum treatments.

1987-Public Education Program

In Fall 1987, the committee and the town contracted with Alliance Technologies, Inc. to conduct a Public Education Program to educate the pond community about what they can do as individuals to improve the condition of the pond. This was funded jointly by the town (April Town Meeting authorized $4,400 or 25%) and the state grant (remaining 75%) through the Massachusetts DEQE, Clean Lakes Program.

The Public Education program consisted of three public meetings (March, May and June of 1988) using slide presentations, a hands-on demonstration at the pond, and distribution of literature on septic system maintenance, low phosphate detergents and other issues important to improving water quality in the pond. Videotapes were made of the meetings and should be available at the library. Topics focused on measures that can be taken by homeowners near the pond, and those using the pond, to reduce nutrient input to the pond water.

1987-Additional Funding

In 1987, the committee requested additional funding from the state Clean Lakes Program for the purpose of further investigation of nutrient loading from watershed sources, particularly the Skug River. At the April 1988 Town Meeting, the committee sought and received authorization for matching town funding to do this engineering study. The project concept was approved; however, the state funding dried up due to the state’s financial crisis.

1989-1991-Committee Becomes Inactive

The committee became inactive somewhere between 1989 and 1991 – there is no annual report on file. State funding became non-existent, the chairperson moved to Australia and other members left the committee when they moved or lost interest.

1992-Committee Revitalized

In February 1992, two old members (Mike Houle and Lida Jenney) renewed their terms. Terry Bastian and Rich Wallner joined later that year).

Two public meetings were held at the library (August and September) to discuss the future of the pond. Terry Bastian, member of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, gave a slide show called “Drinking Your Backyard” and explained the importance of protecting our water. Special guests included the sewer commissioner from Billerica to discuss a pond-dredging project in that town, the coordinator for the Mass. Riverways Programs to look at non-point sources of pollution in our watershed. She felt our first priority ought to be a septic system management and maintenance program.

The committee joins the Mass. Congress of Lake and Pond Associations

The committee joined the Mass. Congress of Lake and Pond Associations – a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the state’s lakes. Its goals are education of the public, aid to emerging lake associations, and related legislative concerns. They offer workshops and advice which the pond committee took advantage of.

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