Edgartown Warned of Threat to Sengekontacket Health

In a repeat of a presentation given to the Oak Bluffs selectmen last month, the Edgartown selectmen Monday heard serious warnings about reducing nitrogen levels in Sengekontacket Pond.

With members of the Joint Committee on Sengekontacket in attendance, the selectmen heard that based on a thorough review of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project study on the pond, nitrogen levels need to be reduced and removed.

Restoring Great Salt Pond

Restoring Great Salt Pond

The draft Massachusetts Estuaries Project report on the Edgartown Great Pond obtained by the Gazette last week is required reading for all who live on the Vineyard. The conclusions of the report may be obvious, but no less startling on an Island with a long history of strictly protecting its pristine environment, and they extend well beyond the sandy perimeters of the Edgartown Great Pond: encroaching development and nitrogen escaping from septic systems are polluting Island ponds.

Costly Sewering Seen As Great Pond Solution

Edgartown wastewater authorities believe a plan to sewer hundreds of homes in the watershed of the Edgartown Great Pond can achieve the 30 per cent reduction in nitrogen pollution required to restore it to health.

A draft report of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project, obtained and published by the Gazette last week, finds the Great Pond’s water quality is significantly affected by heavy nitrogen loading. The biggest single contributor to the problem is household septic systems, the report found.

State Auditor Charges Estuaries Project With Contract Violations

State auditor Joseph DeNucci delivered a hard blow to the Massachusetts Estuaries project this week, releasing a highly critical audit report on the multi-million dollar project managed by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth to study the health of ponds and estuaries on the Cape and Islands.

The Massachusetts auditor’s report found undocumented contract costs, no-bid contracts and a potential conflict of interest in the project, a sophisticated scientific study begun in 2001 of more than 60 ponds and estuaries from Duxbury to the Cape and Islands.

Massachusetts Estuaries Study Ready to Release First Report

The first of the long-awaited studies of the health of Vineyard ponds by the Massachusetts Estuaries Project is set to be released within weeks and will recommend significant changes to the management of the Edgartown Great Pond.

Estuaries Study Now Complete

Edgartown will consider making it mandatory for hundreds of residents in the watershed of the Edgartown Great Pond to hook up to a new town sewer line, following recommendations of a study into pollution of the pond.

The final report of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP), released this week, finds that most of the 890-acre pond is moderately or significantly impaired by high levels of nitrogen, which poses a threat to eelgrass, shellfish and fish.

Estuaries Study Moves Ahead

Following the resolution of a year-long contractual standoff between the University of Massachusetts and the state Department of Environmental Protection, a number of long-delayed reports on the health of the Vineyard’s ponds are again on track for completion.

The long dispute over who owned data used for computer modeling of water quality in bays and estuaries drastically slowed work on the federally-mandated effort to assess and then reduce pollution problems.

Senator O’Leary Confirms Standoff Over Key Study

A continuing contractual dispute between the state Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth is delaying efforts to clean coastal waters all over the Cape and Islands, and must be solved quickly, state Sen. Robert O’Leary said yesterday.

The 11-month standoff has left towns without important data, compiled under the Massachusetts Estuaries Project, documenting the health and particularly the nutrient loading of their estuaries, bays and ponds. The information is needed for remediation and planning.

Study Traces Sengekontacket’s Troubles

A draft report of the long-awaited Massachusetts Estuaries Project study of Sengekontacket Pond sketches a profile of a coastal pond that is at once troubling and hopeful.

Although the vast pond that spans the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown has undergone significant ecological changes with increased development in the past half century, including a drastic decline in eelgrass beds, specific steps could be taken that would restore the pond to nearly its original state, the report finds.

Nitrogen Tips Pond’s Delicate Balance

Farm Pond, the 42-acre great salt pond that hugs the edge of the Harthaven section of Oak Bluffs along Beach Road, is ailing and at risk due to too much nitrogen, a draft study for the ongoing Massachusetts Estuaries Project concludes.

The draft report, which is now circulating among town leaders and water quality planners, also finds that rehabilitation of the pond is easily within reach and could be largely accomplished by significantly widening the culvert that allows tidal exchange between the pond and Nantucket Sound.

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