Morses Pond History
Morses Pond has a rich history dating back to 1738, when Edward Ward dammed his brook to create a small mill pond. The original Morses Pond was much smaller than the pond we enjoy today. During the following century, a string of owners from railroad companies to paint manufacturers built up the damn and used the impounded water as a source of hydropower. Towards the end of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, two different ice-making companies owned the pond. Both companies built the pond up to the Morses Pond we enjoy today.
Morses Pond covers about 100 acres between Routes 135 and 9 in the northwest corner of Wellesley. A large area of the pond is less than 10-feet deep; its average depth is about 8 feet and its maximum depth is 23 feet. Water enters the north end of the pond from Bogle Brook, Boulder Brook, and Jennings Brook. Water exits the pond through the damn on Route 135 and continues on to Paintshop Pond, Lake Waban, and eventually the Charles River. Water also exits via the groundwater wells that extract water for public consumption in Natick and Wellesley.
Morses Pond is considered eutrophic; it receives more nutrients than life in the pond can use. A eutrophic pond is on the fast track to conversion to wetland. Pond eutrophication often stems from an excess of phosphorus. Extra phosphorus reduces water clarity and supports the rampant growth of algae and other undesirable plants and weeds. While algae and undesirable plants and weeds thrive in a phosphorus-rich environment, they strangle fish and other aquatic animals by consuming the oxygen necessary for life. Algal blooms kill fish and other animals, create unpleasant odors, and nurture vegetation that grows dense and thick enough to close large areas of the pond to swimmers and boaters for much of the summer.
Have you visited Morses Pond Lately?
When do you visit Morses Pond? Perhaps you brave the ice-cold, spring waters for a mid-May swim? Perhaps you spend the summer sunbathing on the beach, fishing for sunfish, and cooling off during the dog days. Perhaps you come in the fall for the foliage and fresh air? Or during the winter to skate when the ice is thick. Did you know that if you live in Wellesley or Natick that Morses comes to you – every day and every night all year round?
Did you know Morses Pond supplies water to homes throughout Natick and Wellesley?
That’s right. Besides swimming, fishing, and fun, Morses Pond provides one of life’s essentials. Inside our homes, we thank it for helping us cook, clean, and bathe. Outside our homes, we thank it for watering our lawns and gardens and washing our cars too. Day and night, 365 days a year, groundwater wells adjacent to Morses Pond draw water, which is treated and delivered right to our homes.
Do you know what you can do to care for Morses pond?
During the summer of 2008, Wellesley distributed a survey to determine whether residents know how they can help keep Morses Pond clean. The results are published [link here]
All ponds have a predictable lifecycle and left untouched would eventually evolve into wetland and ultimately dry land over time. Human actions affect this evolution by speeding up or slowing down the process. We all want to slow it down, right? Two categories of human pollution hasten the evolution of a pond system: point-source pollution and non-point source pollution. Point source pollution is easy to identify; it is delivered to a waterway via pipe or channel—you can see it. Many years ago, it was common for residents and factories to use ponds and rivers as personal trashcans. The Clean Water Act has been slowly putting an end to point source pollution, but the threats to Morses pond haven't entirely disappeared. Morses now faces much more subtle pollution threats—non-point sources. The pond is the collection point for all
of the water that flows within the watershed. A non-point source comes from the land. Everything we do to the land within a watershed affects the body of water at the bottom—how we wash our cars, how we take care of our lawns, how we clean our streets… The good news is that with a little knowledge, we can work together to minimize non-point source pollution on our pond.
The Morses Pond watershed covers roughly nine square miles within Wellesley, Natick, Weston, and Wayland. The watershed is highly developed, with much of the land dedicated to residential use. This is particularly significant as residential landscape management practices have a substantial impact on the pond. Furthermore, Morses Pond is the shallow centerpiece, or collection point, for a huge watershed. Since every drop of water in the watershed makes it to Morses pond, water quality and pond health hinge on much more than what happens at the pond itself.
Development is the number one cause of non-point source pollution. Precipitation, be it rain or snow, falls within the watershed on both developed and non-developed land. Snowmelt and rainstorm runoff washes everything on the surface of the watershed downstream towards Morses Pond. Where the ground is porous, like lawns and forests, runoff filters into the groundwater and migrates slowly back to the pond. However, much of the stormwater runoff and snowmelt flows down developed areas including impervious driveways, roadways, and parking lots where it collects everything from the sand and oil on our roads to the fertilizers and pesticides washed off of our lawns. There is no buffer to treat the road runoff and snowmelt before it reaches the pond. It flows overland along the streets, drops into storm grates, and finds its way directly to the
pond. Storm drains provide express delivery of harmful pollutants to the pond.