projects will sink or swim at TM
By Rachel Lebeaux/ Townsman
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Town infrastructure projects don't
always involve bricks and mortar: in the case of Morse's Pond, it's
more like water and weeds.
articles at Town Meeting later this month will seek to make Morse's
Pond viable for recreational, environmental and water-quality
purposes for a long time to come.
21, which was brought forth jointly by the Natural Resources
Commission, the Recreation Commission and the Board of Public Works,
asks Town Meeting members to approve a more-than-$1 million
appropriation for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the 105-acre
pond. According to NRC Director Janet Bowser, the work has been
waiting for a while.
long time, Morse's Pond has been ignored as a resource," Bowser said
of the pond, which has been enlarged several times since the 1700s.
"People said, 'It's a nice pond. It's not looking very good, but we
wouldn't have to [work on it] this year.'
condition of the pond, both as an environmental resource and a
recreational resource, has been declining for decades," Bowser said.
"The sense was we need to begin developing a long-term management
plan for the pond before losing it."
three boards came together because, Bowser said, they saw their
interests in the pond as complementary. From the NRC's perspective,
the pond is important as a natural and environmental resource; for
the BPW, quality drinking water is crucial, since 40 percent of the
town's water supply comes from deep wells adjacent to the pond; for
the Recreation Commission, the pond offers residents the opportunity
to swim, boat, hike, skate and fish.
Meeting in 2004 approved $150,000 to conduct and develop a
management plan for the pond, Bowser said. Part of that money came
from Community Preservation Act funding; the rest, from the town
budget. The town hired Dr. Ken Wagner, an environmental consultant,
to work with town boards; along the way, a Morse's Pond Ad Hoc
Committee was formed and residents were invited to attend five
public forums on the matter.
are two main problems with the pond, Bowser said. The first is the
presence of invasive weeds; the second is an overgrowth of algae.
Last June, the Natural Resources Commission voted down one suggested
method for curing those problems, an herbicide called fluridone. The
town's Integrated Pest Management policy states that there must be a
public-health emergency or no other alternatives in order for
herbicides to be used, and the situation at Morse's Pond did not
trigger that, Bowser said.
to counter the weeds, Town Meeting members under Article 13 will be
asked to approve a $250,000 appropriation from the CPA fund to
purchase of a new weed harvester. "The town has a more-than
20-year-old weed harvester that needs to be replaced - every year,
we cross our fingers that it continues to float," Bowser said.
other primary concern is that there is too much algae in the water,
which damages water clarity. To address that, Bowser said, Town
Meeting will be asked to endorse a three-part solution.
first portion of the plan revolves around watershed management,
including educating residents, reviewing (and possibly tightening
up) town bylaws and enforcing stormwater management. Although only
22 percent of the Morse's Pond watershed lies in Wellesley (the rest
is in Natick and Weston), Wellesley's portion - "pretty much
everything north of Route 9" - is the most developed, Bowser
second part would call for implementing a phosphorus inactivation
station. "The primary problem in terms of algae growth in the pond
is that there is too much phosphorus and fertilizer going into the
pond, mainly from people's lawns," Bowser explained. That run-off
eventually finds its way into storm drains, and then into the pond.
"This station would be at the inlet, and would bind with the
phosphorus so it's deactivated, and won't enter the pond in a
harmful form," Bowser said.
third recommendation is to dredge the northern basin of the pond of
sediment. Initially, there were talks of dredging the entire pond,
but the cost could have soared to $9 million. The method before Town
Meeting would call for using a machine that Bowser likened to "a big
straw that would pull the sediment out of the bottom."
entire cost of the proposed plan, not including the weed harvester,
is $1,073,000. There is also a $75,000 appropriation within the
town's operating budget that would cover the hiring of a pond
manager, paying two people to operate the weed harvester and some
Article 21 is approved by Town Meeting, the funds to clean up
Morse's Pond would appear on an override ballot as part of a
debt-exclusion question proposed by town officials to address three
years worth of town infrastructure needs. On this matter, "We
deferred to the powers that be to make the wider municipal finance
decision," Bowser said. "We understand that the town has multiple
needs at this point, and we hope this will be funded."
debt exclusion does not pass, work on Morse's Pond would have to be
deferred for at least another year. If it were approved, "work would
matter what, Bowser said, there would be no impact on swimmers, as
harvesting would not take place in the beach area. She added that,
under Article 20, the Recreation Commission is requesting an
appropriation of funds toward rehabilitating or reconstructing the
Morse's Pond dock.
articles at Town Meeting will address the overgrowth of weeds
and algae at Morse's Pond. (File photo by Rachel