Brewster Ponds Coalition Up and Running
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.”
Click on WXTK logo above to hear short audio clip of interview of BPC Board President, Karen Malkus-Benjamin, with News Director, Matt Pitta.
Grass-roots group launches informative website.
Article | News | December 4, 2014 - 10:30am | By CapeCodToday Staff
A group of concerned Brewster residents have banded together to form the Brewster Ponds Coalition. The non-profit's goal is to protect the 80 ponds within the Lower Cape town.
By creating the coalition, Board President Karen Malkus-Benjamin said the group hopes to turn individual actions into meaningful community efforts. "As an independent non-profit, we feel the organization can be more nimble and incorporate a healthy diversity of experience to help Brewster ponds in the long term," Malkus-Benjamin said.
Although beautiful, the town's ponds are at risk for contamination by invasive species and the impacts of human development including fertilizers, septic systems leaching, run-off and pharmaceuticals.
The coalition held their first meeting on October 4 with more than 70 residents in attendance.
This week the Brewster Ponds Coalition launched a website meant to engage and inform Brewster residents. Board member Konrad Schultz, who designed the website said it was created to "help Brewster residents understand the issues and the steps that they can take right now in their own home and yard to improve pond water quality."
On the website, the coalition points out that only five of Brewster's ponds (Slough Pond, Sheep Pond, Greenland Pond, Little Cliff Pond and Higgins Pond) are high quality according to Cape Cod Commission and Mass DEP water quality standards. Most of the town's pond are impaired, according to a map courtesy of Horsley Witten Group.
The coalition is actively seeking new members and volunteers for its various committees.