DNR To Hold Public Outreach Events On Water Quality Effort At Santuit Pond

The Mashpee Department of Natural Resources is planning a series of public outreach events to discuss ongoing water quality improvement efforts at Santuit Pond.

The purpose of the public outreach events, which would be held during the select board’s regular meetings, is to increase community engagement around several state-funded projects aiming to restore the pond.

Conducting the events during recorded select board meetings will allow residents who are unable to attend in person to follow along with information.

DNR director Ahsley K. Fisher went before the board on Monday, December 19, to discuss the idea.

She said previous outreach events were not well attended, prompting her to request that the board make a slot on its agenda.

“All of these partnerships are complex and they will need a lot of public input and support from the board moving forward,” Ms. Fisher said, “We really need the public engagement and this is the best venue for that.”

DNR currently has three grants totaling over $1.2 million dedicated to the restoration of Santuit Pond.

One of the restoration funding sources is the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action Grant or MVP. The department is currently using its second round of MVP grant funding.

Mashpee was awarded the state’s largest grant this year, $469,037, to implement a stormwater high-priority site at Lantern Lane and Timberland Drive.

“We are currently working on that with the DPW, and are hoping to break ground this winter into the spring,” Ms. Fisher said.

Consulting firm Fuss & O’Neill of Quincy was hired with the first round of MVP funding to identify 21 sites around the pond that need improvement.

“There are a lot of people out there who really want to do something for this one waterbody,” Ms. Fisher said.

Multiple projects are also underway to address the pond’s existing phosphorus and its input into the watershed.

A series of public outreach events will center around the findings on these issues. Events will include presentations from the Army Corp of Engineers on the feasibility of dredging the pond, an aluminum sulfate treatment feasibility study by ESS Engineering, and a presentation on aquatic plant harvesting feasibility and phosphorus removal and permitting.

“If we want to implement any of these measures we will need to really describe them fully and educate the public on what we are trying to do here,” Ms. Fisher said.

In addition to the MVP project, DNR received a grant from the Natural Resources Department of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Southeast New England Program (SNEP). The grant allowed for the creation of a draft plan for the Santuit Pond watershed and for an examination of potential activation treatments on the pond’s sediments.

A draft has been submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection, and it received initial feedback of a 90 percent score, Ms. Fisher said. However several changes were suggested resulting in DNR revisiting the topic with town boards for further public engagement.

The proposed outreach event on this topic would allow the public to review the watershed plan before its final submission to the Department of Environmental Protection for approval.

“Through this project, we are also looking to implement more stormwater improvements around the pond,” she added.

SNEP is also looking to apply for additional funding through the 604B water quality program, grant funding under the Clean Water Act, for stormwater design implementation around the pond.

Public outreach events would also include information on proposed improvements to Santuit Pond Town Landing being completed by Fuss & O’Neill through MVP funding. A website, survey, and further public outreach events outside of the select board on the town landing are also in the works, Ms. Fisher said.

They will also discuss a proposed May Town Meeting warrant article that would seek a prohibition on the use of motors over 5 horsepower on the pond.

“The consultant’s Fuss & O’Neill would like to describe the importance of this article to the board and why they feel it is the most important step to restoring Santuit Pond,” Ms. Fisher said.

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