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A new weapon to protect Wellesley's Morses Pond: rain barrels

Posted by Derek McLean  June 24, 2011 01:06 PM

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Wellesley will begin two projects within the next year to help protect Morses Pond by limiting rainwater runoff and improving the pond’s clarity. The projects are part of a 20-year management plan.

‘‘We hope to be able to work with folks within the watershed and specifically those abutters along the pond,’’ said Janet Bowser, executive director of the Natural Resource Commission. ‘‘We will try to reduce the amount of pesticides they use as well as rainwater runoff.’’

The Natural Resources Commission met Tuesday night with the nonprofit organization Friends of Morses Pond Association to present the plan. “I think their response was good, it is something we will be pursuing within the next year,” said Bowser.

Bowser said the plan will encourage residents living along the pond to put in rain gardens to filter runoff. The town also plans to help residents neighboring the pond purchase rain barrels, which would each catch around 55 gallons of water off roofs.

“By using rainwater, which is a natural form of moisture, you can treat that water and use it on your own property,” said Neal Seaborn, chairman of the Natural Resources Commission. The water will be filtered by the soil, limiting the amount of water that goes into streams.

Seaborn said residents using rainwater will lower water consumption as well.

Another project is to improve water clarity in the pond. To do so the town will attempt to limit phosphorus-containing fertilizers from entering the pond.

Seaborn said phosphorus creates algae that affect water clarity. “When the phosphorus comes in, it combines with the bacteria in the water,” he said. “It is like yeast in bread, it causes it to rise. So it creates what we call algae blooms.”

“Fertilizer is the leading cause for the high level of phosphorus in the pond. Oil contaminants from along Route 9 contribute as well,” said Bowser. She recommends that people who live along Morses Pond either not use fertilizer, or buy non-phosphorus fertilizer, to limit the growth of algae.

Future aspects of the management plan will be determined down the road.

While the pond is full of invasive weeds, over the past year it has been getting better. “We are a long way away from having the pond as good as it could be,” said Seaborn. “We are at least several years away from that.”

Bowser said Morses Pond is a shallow pond, so it is never going to be pristine and free of plants. But she said, “There is certainly a lot of room for improvement and we are making good process.”

Derek McLean can be reached at dbmclean1@gmail.com.

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