2003 Annual Report

Martins Pond Association
c/o North Reading Town Hall
235 North St
North Reading MA 01864 Contacts:
Lida Jenney
or
Janet Nicosia

2003 Annual Report of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee and the Martins Pond Association

The Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee (MPRSC) and Martins Pond Association (MPA) spent 2003 working on many important local issues with cooperation and assistance from state and local officials, Merrimack College, and private consultants. These issues included:

  • Water levels and Water Quality/Flooding and Beaver activity
  • Completion of an Assessment Study of Martins Pond
  • Execution of the Lakes and Ponds study
  • Identifying and applying for funds for future studies and actions

The committee held two public meetings (April 9 and December 10) where we reviewed ongoing projects. We attended workshops to improve our knowledge of lake and pond issues. Also, we continued to create or participate in events to raise funds for future park improvements and/or environmental efforts.

Water Levels/Flooding:

A final draft of the Flood Emergency Plan for the Martins Pond area is being written up to coordinate activities between police, fire, schools, DPW, utilities, and residences during a flood regarding who will do what, at what stage. A temporary bus stop will be allowed at Shaw’s Plaza if Burroughs Road gets closed.

Volunteers continue to monitor nine USGS water level gauges weekly to check water levels upstream, downstream and in Martins Pond to try and prevent future flooding and track seasonal changes. Volunteers also clean out clogged culverts and identify beaver activity in Martins Brook, Martins Pond and the Skug River. Often the Wilmington DPW needs to be contacted for assistance.

We have had to request a special permit to breech the beaver dam at the end of Fieldcrest Road. We applied for a beaver deceiver but it will have to be installed in Spring 2004 after the thaw. Extensive field surveys have been conducted to track and monitor beaver activity in the watershed. Our goal is a town-wide beaver management program.

In the spring, the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Plain Management Service Program began studying the flooding problems of Martins Brook from Rt. 62 in Wilmington to Burroughs Rd. in North Reading. They will develop models of the brook to show the existing condition and propose alternative improvements. Solutions being considered include enlarging the culverts that Martins Brooks runs through and creating a new by-pass channel west of the existing outflow since the channel is clogged with vegetation and sediment deposits. Wilmington also controls water flow with flood boards (weirs) they install to hold water near their town wells. This, unfortunately, backs up the water in Martins Pond so our town continues to speak to them about this problem to find a compromise.

In addition, the Army Corps plans to hydro-rake Martins Brook from the bridge on Burroughs Road approximately 500 feet down the river and 10-20 feet wide. This will remove the overabundance of vegetation (mostly Purple Loosestrife root balls) that are clogging the channel. This pilot study’s resulting data will be used towards tapping into the State Environmental Bond to rake the entire channel. The DPW Dept is funding this pilot program.

Assessment Study of Martins Pond

Merrimack College and Malcolm Pirnie Engineers completed the final Assessment Study of Martins Pond in March. The report includes a watershed management plan for the Martins Pond area that assesses the current condition of the watershed, including water quality, flooding, wildlife issues, and invasive plant species; and supplements efforts currently being accomplished under the Town’s Storm Water Management Plan. An assessment of the hydraulic conditions of the pond, including the Skug River and Martins Brook is included. In addition, the grant covered a pilot study for the release of the Galerucella Beetle to control an invasive plant species, Purple Loosestrife. Purple loosestrife is an aggressive invader of North American wetland, lakes and rivers, often affecting the biodiversity of an area.

The cost of this study was shared equally by the Town (April 2002 Town Meeting) and the state (Lakes and Ponds Grant from DEM). Copies of the report are available at Flint Memorial Library and from the Town Engineer, Mike Soraghan. The report has a summary of recommendations for the following categories:

Loosestrife and wetland assessment:

For the second year in partnership with Merrimack College, we have raised and placed Galerucella beetles on Loosestrife plants in the wetlands to eat the plants. The report recommendations include monitoring the wetland vegetation for 2-3 years to assess changes attributable to the beetles. We purchased GPS units to more accurately map and track our success with the beetles.

Martins Pond assessment:

Martins Pond is now listed as an impaired water body under the Clean Water Act because of high turbidity as well as noxious aquatic plants and exotic species. Of concern now is Fanwort (Cambomba Caroliniana) – an exotic invasive species since in over 57% of the sample plots. High turbidity levels are currently limiting the extent of aquatic growth (a good thing), however, it has also lead to a swimming ban at the public beach due to lack of clarity. Efforts to reduce any of the components of turbidity (tannins, algal biomass, total suspended solids) could increase light penetration and result in dramatic increases in the extent of aquatic plant (macrophyte) growth in the pond.

Water quality assessment:

The water quality assessment recommendations include continued monitoring of the pond and upstream through at least June 2003. Merrimack students have committed to continue monitoring the pond and other points in our watershed through 2004. Additional sampling sites need to be added upstream to identify the sources of high Phosphorus levels in waters entering the pond – particularly in summer drought conditions. This triggers plant growth. Total and fecal coliform levels are also being monitored. Coliform levels spike after rain events and residents should be aware of the potential health risks of swimming under these poor water conditions. Culprits could be birds, beavers, dogs, and human waste seeping into the pond.
We continued our partnership with the Environmental Science program at Merrimack College and the town, and plan to continue through 2004. They added more water testing sites in the Martins Pond watershed from up in North Andover down to where Martins Brook joins the Ipswich River near Stop and Shop. They’ll continue testing for phosphorous sources and bacteria. We urge everyone to dispose of pet waste properly and keep your septic systems in good working order.

Identifying and Applying for Funds:

We were awarded a $2,000 grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund to fund watershed initiatives: fund bi-weekly water testing and analysis, organize the Martins Pond watershed stakeholders through education and outreach, and identify ways to reduce the inflow of pollutants into the pond.

In partnership with the Town and Merrimack College, we applied for a grant for MET’s Ecosystem Health and Biological Diversity Program.

The town, in partnership with Merrimack College and our group, applied for a volunteer water monitoring assistance grant (8Kmax) to keep our studies going at Merrimack College. The grant program was cancelled so we can, hopefully, try again next year. We’d like to be able to pay Merrimack College for all their free assistance and water monitoring work to help them recoup their costs and continue our relationship with them.

We applied for the DEP 319 Nonpoint Source Competitive Grants Program (nearly 100K) to help combat the invasive weed Fanwort in the pond and other pollutants. Sonar herbicide has been recommended by Aquatic Control Technologies. Although not selected, a DEP person will meet with us on Feb 4, 2004 to review our application in hopes for a reapplication in 2004.

We applied for help from Antioch University Graduate School of Environmental Science and Conservation. We were not selected.

We are still slated to tap into the Environmental Bond Fund created August 30, 2002. We have $300,000 earmarked for projects that will benefit Martins Pond and/or Martins Brook. The Army Corps of Engineers’ report will be used to apply for funding under this bill to continue the raking and opening the river downstream in an effort to alleviate flooding.

Members:

As of the end of the year, there were four regular members of the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee: Missy Correlle (37 Lakeside Blvd.), Lida Jenney (6 Shore Road), Janet Nicosia (2 Poplar Terrace), and Scott Ronco (4 Poplar Terrace). We have room for one more full member and two associate members. The Martins Pond Association can have an unlimited number of members. Mike Scannell of the MPA continues to serve on the Wastewater Planning Advisory Committee as the Martins Pond Association representative.

Members continued to attend local meetings regarding area issues such as the Pine Forest proposed development in Andover and update the Association via our email distribution list. Residents were updated via email about many other area issues: ice safety, a rash of break-ins in the area with Police contacts, other environmental education opportunities and meetings in the area.

Workshops/Conferences Attended:

In January, Janet Nicosia, Missy Correlle, and Lida Jenney attended COLAP’s Annual Lake and Pond Management Workshop in Leicester.
MPA Events/Fundraisers:

This year’s fundraisers profited close to $4,700.

10th Annual Winter Festival – Saturday, February 8th
MPA had their 10th Annual Winter Festival at Clarke Park that raised about $332. Special events included pony rides, photos with Bob the Builder, remote control airplanes, face painting, hot food, campfire, games, raffles and prizes.

Town of North Reading Memorial Day Parade – Monday, May 27
The MPA prepared a “float” for the Memorial Day parade from a canoe on a trailer pulled by two Indians on a tandem bicycle. The canoe was filled with little “Indian” children and little cowboys followed behind on their stick “ponies.”

Drop-in Volleyball at Clarke Park – 6PM til dusk, Thursday nights

8th Annual Summer Festival – Saturday, July 12
MPA had their 6th Annual Fishing Derby and 9th Annual Summer Festival at Clarke Park that profited $2,074. Special events included pony rides, a live animal show, dog Frisbee dog and model aircraft demonstrations, moon bounce, train ride, kid’s maze, face painting, and two live bands. In addition, there were canoe races, pontoon boat rides, kids’ games, raffles, food, a flea market, and demonstrations by two dancing schools.

Playground Build – Saturday, September 6
Over a dozen members of the MPA and friends, along with Brian Wood, Parks Director, volunteered their day to install the new playground equipment at Clarke Park saving us $10,000 in installation charges. The $21,000 cost to purchase the play equipment was shared by the MPA ($11,500) and the Parks Dept. ($9,500).

9th Annual Children’s Haunted Playground – Saturday, October 25
We had our 9th Annual Children’s Haunted Playground that raised about $3,000. The skits on our haunted tours included: a Monster in the Closet, the Bad Apple Circus, a bride and her wedding party stuck in purgatory, Martin’s graveyard, and more. We had a roving magician, showed Casper the Friendly Ghost movies and gave out awards in our costume contest. Hot food and light rope necklaces were sold.

Ongoing Fundraiser
Bottle deposits to benefit MPA – Drop off your returnable bottles and cans to N.E. Beverage and Redemption Center any time and request the money go to the Martins Pond account.

To learn more about the Martins Pond Reclamation Study Committee and the Martins Pond Association, visit our web site: www.martinspond.org.

Respectfully submitted,

Lida Jenney and Janet Nicosia

Martins Pond Committee and Association