August 11, 2016
Working with local lakeshore owners, Franklin Pierce has received a $60,000 Watershed Assistance grant from the NHDES Watershed Management Bureau to improve water quality in picturesque Pearly Pond. These funds will be matched with almost $40,000 in labor and cash from the University, the Pearly Pond Association, and the Rindge Conservation Commission.
Pearly Pond is a beautiful 192-acre lake in Rindge that suffers from harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms, caused by excess total phosphorus. When these algae grow out of control, they cause low oxygen levels, which harm fish and other aquatic life. This project, led by Professor Catherine Owen Koning, will build on the successful Pearly Pond Management Plan, which was also funded by the same program in 2012-2014 and which featured the work of consultants from Comprehensive Environmental Inc. "We are very happy to be able to implement the management plan. We did a lot of research and put major time and effort into creating this plan, so we didn't want to see it sit on a shelf, gathering dust," Prof. Koning commented.
The lake management plan identified the sources of phosphorus as stormwater runoff (45%), which carries non-point source pollution from fertilizer, erosion, roads and other sources. Another large source of total phosphorus is historic total phosphorus inputs from the Franklin Pierce wastewater treatment facility (18%), which released surface discharges into a complex of wetlands north of the lake from 1968-2008. A large population of geese also contributes to the total phosphorus problem (10%) as do septic systems (7%).
This project will implement several best management practices to reduce the total phosphorus reaching the lake. These actions include leasing border collies who are specially trained to harmlessly chase the geese away, and trying out other methods of geese management, including fences and scare tactics. Lakeshore owners are receiving education about the importance of proper septic system maintenance, and many homeowners have contracted with Stone’s Septic serviceto get regular pumping at reduced rates. Franklin Pierce will install an iron-enhanced sand filter at the outflow of the wetlands that drain into the lake. The Pearly Pond Association will install erosion control and rain gardens in a Town-owned right-of-way on Kimball Rd., and will also work with voluntary private landowners to install rain gardens and vegetated buffers to intercept stormwater runoff into the lake.
“The grant offers an opportunity not only to improve water quality in Pearly Pond but also to demonstrate the capacity of lake residents, Franklin Pierce University and the town of Rindge to work together to address an environmental problem of common interest," noted Prof. Paul Kotila, who is also part of the lake management team. Students and other community members will have the opportunity to participate in the lake clean-up through semi-annual lakeside litter pick-ups. Volunteers from the Lake Association, including Bob Scribner, Al Columbus, Dick Isakson and Stacey Piskowski, will also work with Franklin Pierce faculty and students to collect water samples and monitor water quality. Dick Isakson, President of the Pearly Pond Association, noted, "I am so excited to be part of this project to protect our lake and property owner values. The collaboration between the University and the Pearly Pond Association is invaluable.