Little Pond

Little Pond 

Falmouth Water Quality Management Committee recently approved a proposal to conduct baseline infaunal benthic sampling in Little Pond.

The proposal will now be brought to the select board for the approval of $19,500 in funds from the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE) to complete the project.

The committee is trying to determine the impacts of nitrogen removal on Little Pond’s overall ecosystem as a result of sewering and to determine a baseline to begin further mitigation to the pond, chairman Eric T. Turkington said.

Sampling has been scheduled by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Marine Science & Technology (SMAST).

“The obvious question is what good is it doing to the pond?” Mr. Turkington said of sewering. “This is about trying to get a healthy pond again.”

The last known benthic sampling in Little Pond was conducted by the Massachusetts Estuaries Project prior to 2006, before the sewering of 1,350 homes in the immediate area surrounding the pond.

The study will look at infaunal communities, which refers to the aquatic animals living in the soft sediments of the pond. Chemical contaminants bind to bottom sediments where species become contaminated after they feed and live in these toxic sediments.

The study will reset that baseline from the MEP, which has changed over time, Science Wares consultant Kristen Rathjen said.

The presence of these infaunal creatures is crucial to a healthy ecosystem.

Sampling will be done in November to capture the organisms that have survived through the summer. The presence of these organisms indicates they will likely survive into the next year to be sampled, SMAST Professor Brian Howes said during a previous meeting on the topic.

Committee member Tom Duncan said he believed summer conditions impacting these systems have disappeared by November, requiring a midsummer sampling to show when conditions have a chance of showing the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Mr. Duncan suggested an additional sample be taken in August to see both extremes.

“I think you’re going to end up in a situation where you don’t show any changes because these systems bounce back by then (November),” Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. Howes said sampling could be done in August. The purpose of this particular sampling is to update the MEP by sampling on the same date for comparison.

Following discussions, Mr. Duncan made a motion to pass the proposal with the knowledge the contract can be amended to include further sampling.

“It would be good to get the information out of this survey in your hands before you decide what you wanted to do next,” Mr. Howes said.

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