By Rich Eldred - email@example.com - Posted Dec. 26, 2014 @ 4:45 pm
BREWSTER -- The Brewster Ponds Coalition has a brand new website for an old purpose; protecting the town’s water resources.
“The goal is for it to be a tool kit,” proclaimed Karen Malkus-Benjamin, the group’s first president, “offering education, a way to connect to us and a way to connect to all the people on Cape Cod interested in water related issues.”
The website design (www.brewsterponds.org) is the work of Konrad Schultz, of Save Blueberry Pond. The Pond Coalition itself grew out of a meeting last spring overseen by the Comprehensive Water Planning Committee, consultants from Horsley and Witten and follow-up gatherings. A steering committee formed over the summer and the first official meeting took place Oct. 4, at the council on aging.
It is non-profit citizens group that can tap into expertise developed by other more focused pond groups in town, such as the Friends of Long Pond (of which Malkus-Benjamin was president), Sheep Pond Beach Association and the Brewster Pond and Lake Stewards (PALS).
“There are three things: educate, advocate and remediate,” Malkus-Benjamin said outlining the Coalition’s purpose. “It’s a group of citizens that can use their energy with a wider view than individual pond groups. We won’t take away from those groups but we will try to use those ideas they’ve had and share them. As a non-profit I feel there is a nimbleness with how we can do testing and get a shared rate because more people are involved.
”Overarching funding might make more resources available.
“If you’re protecting ponds polluted by water runoff (for example) a lot of things are easier if at all the different ponds you’re doing the same things,” she said. “You can maybe buy at a discount and use the same ideas.”
In addition to avoiding re-inventing the wheel pond by pond, the coalition can act as a clearing-house for resources.
“We want to start holding educational workshops, maybe have speakers talk about the history of Brewster’s ponds,” Malkus-Benjamin explained. “In 1900 the Cape was a barren sand pile. A lot has happened with the agricultural industry (think cranberries), with fish stocking, the reclamation of ponds. Bob Marley said there isn’t a bright future if you don’t know your past. We’re asking people to come to meetings and share their stories.”
At one time there was a horse-racing track around Long Pond.
The coalition can also provide a “green infrastructure” of landscaping tools to understand what happens to fertilizer runoff and storm water.
“We can talk about how to grow a vegetative buffer zone or a rain garden, things you can do in your yard,” she said. “Things that reduce pollution by filtering water in the soil. The Blueberry Pond group has a video on ‘bioswales’, how they did it.”
The PALS group has already pioneered water sampling in Brewster. Malkus-Benjamin herself started as a volunteer for them.
“We love the idea of the town using optical dissolved oxygen meters that can do an instant reading. That idea would be great to share among ponds,” she declared.
They’ll look at the biological components of pond life as well, herring, other fish, birds, insects, turtles, plants.
“We want to look at the whole ecosystem,” Malkus-Benjamin explained.
What they won’t do is become heavily political. “We need to tread lightly,” she said.
Anyone interested in Brewster’s Ponds is welcome. You don’t need to live on a shoreline.“Just come to the meetings,” she said.
“The website has a sign-up form. We’ll meet the first Thursday of the month. We’ll have workshops in the new-year. We all connected through the aquifer and trouble in the ponds is a canary in the coal mine for all our water resources.”