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Long Pond Closed Due To High Levels Of E.Coli, Cyanobacteria

Mar 23, 2016 12:34AM ● By Bill Gilman

Ducks at dusk on Long Pond. (Rich MacDonald photo)

Efforts to expand recreational use of Tewksbury's Long Pond have been dealt a setback.
Conservation Agent Kyle Boyd was forced to shut down Long Pond on Dec, 7 due to the findings in the pond's 2015 Aquatic/Emergent Vegetation and Water Quality Report. The study, commissioned by the town and conducted by Acquatic Control Technologies, found significantly elevated levels of E. Coli and Cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria is a blue‐green algae, whose blooms can pose a human health concern. According to Boyd, 50 percent of the pond samples taken in the study, exceeded the the 15,000 cells per milliliter threshold permitted.
E. Coli is a specific type of fecal coliform and indicative of the presence of fecal matter from humans or other warm‐blooded mammals. According to Boyd, 33 percent of inpond sample result values and100 percent of tributary sample result values exceeded the permittable threshold of 235 organisms per 100 milliliters.
"We didn't have a choice," said Boyd. "As soon as I saw the results in the report, we had to shut it down."
Moving forward, Boyd said the two objectives of his office and the Conservation Commission will be to backtrace the origins of the E.Coli contamination and to treat the pond for both E.Coli and the Cyanobacteria. To accomplish those goals, voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May will be asked to transfer $35,000 from the Community Preservation Fund Open Space Reserve. According to the warrant article, the funds will be used to "chemically treat the pond to correct nutrient and algae levels, for aquatic plant management and investigate remedies for the long-term health of the pond."
There are several possible sources for the E.Coli, including leaks from nearby septic tanks, bird and mammal feces or even runoff from the Oliveira Farm on Marston Street. Boyd said it will take a thorough investigation to determine the exact cause.
One of just two ponds in Tewksbury, Long Pond is located in the southwest section of town, off Whipple Road and Pond Street.
Plagued by water quality issues in the past, efforts have been made in recent years to clean up the pond and open it up for recreational use. Those efforts have included clearing vegetation from the shorelines and the shallows and planting more than two dozen "spring gardens" around the pond to filter runoff.
For the past two years, Kayaking and paddle boarding have been allowed on the pond. there has been talk of establishing a boat ramp.
According to Boyd, the goal will be to have the pond's water treated and be able to open the pond back up for limited recreational use by summer.
Todd Johnson for Selectman


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