As of last Thursday, the 22nd of July, Savery Pond in Plymouth was placed under the EPA’s cyanobacteria advisory alongside Wampatruck Pond in Hanson, joining the continual mucky West Monponsett Pond (Read more on the West Monponsett Pond). Savery Pond is approximately 30 acres with an average depth of 7 feet. It is in the South Shore Coastal Watershed and forms the headwaters of Herring Brook which flows into the Ellisville Marsh. Considered a “Great Pond”, held by Massachusetts for public use, the pond is home to the bluegill, channel catfish, common carp, crappie, and largemouth bass fish species.
Aside from several cranberry bogs, most of the Savery Pond shoreline is developed with residential housing and campgrounds. The Indianhead Resort is a campground on the Savery Pond shoreline that offers classic family camping and resort style motor home site hosting. Campers flood to the campground from all over, especially for the 4th of July and Memorial Day weekends. The staff advocate for visitors to grab a canoe or rowboat, go fishing and enjoy the aquatic plants, interesting birds and turtles and frogs that are frequently spotted in the area. Savery Pond is also perfect for picnics, sand castle building and, of course, swimming. The younger ones can enter the pond’s annual Kids Fishing Derby!
The EPA’s cyanobacteria advisory, however, means Savery Pond has visible scum or a mat layer present, a blue-green cell count that exceeds 70,000 cells/milliliter of water or a microsystic toxic level that exceeds 14 parts per billion. In other words, harmful algal blooms are preventing annual events from happening. This guacamole like substances sits on the surface of lakes in layers as thick as half a foot! Fish are left to suffocate under this layer of scum. Birds can’t get through the surface for food. The algae has even been said to cause skin and eye irritation, trigger asthma-like symptoms and, in large amounts, harm the liver in humans. We need to get the guacamole out of our lakes.
These harmful algal blooms are caused by an excess of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which overfeed the algae that already exist in the lakes. These nutrients come from septic or sewage, or runoff from agriculture or lawn fertilizers. Towns are working on reducing septic and sewage problems. But agriculture is over fertilized by 100% and lawns are being over fertilized by 500%!
Though cranberry bogs have can be seen as a cause of excess nutrients, especially for Savery Pond, over fertilizing residential lawns is an issue we can and need to own up to and fix! It is important that we reduce the amount of fertilizer we apply to our lawns from 5 lbs per thousand square feet per year to 1lb. This could mean applying a half pound in the spring and a half pound in the fall. The important thing is to not fertilize during the summer, because long day light and warm temperatures in addition to these excess nutrients, promote the growth of algae.
Do you have guacamole in your lake?