Friends Of Morses Pond

Friends of Morses Pond Updated on Pond Management

By Richard Howell, President of the Friends of Morses Pond

Morses Pond is the “Jewel in the Crown” of natural resources in Wellesley. A special place where everyone can enjoy fun activities and watching wildlife. This year the pond has seen a surge in visitors enjoying its value as a place where one can relax, away from the challenges of COVID-19.

But it is a fragile jewel. It needs friends to help it continue to sparkle, now, and for future generations.

On September 21st the Friends of Morses Pond had their first ever ZOOM meeting to be updated on the management program for the pond. Guest speakers were Brandon Schmitt of the NRC and the main presentation was from Ken Wagner, the pond expert who has been looking after the pond since the introduction of the program to protect over 10 years ago. Brandon began the meeting with an overview of the challenges ahead with the funding for a replacement for the main harvester, which has reached the end of its effective service life. Although the current machine still works it has become increasingly unreliable and unable to cut at its full capacity even when working. Brandon finished his presentation with an overview of the update of the beach facilities. This proposal, led by the Recreation Commission, recommends replacement of the current outdated and non-ADA-compliant structures with modern eco-friendly amenities for the benefit of all Wellesley residents.

Ken Wagner then presented the data from this year’s pond management. The water quality of Morses Pond is impacted by the fact that about 75% of its watershed is urbanized; this means that it has significantly more nutrients from lawns and other run-off when compared to a natural water body. The phosphate removal that was started by Dr. Wagner has greatly improved the water quality, especially the clarity which is important for the safety of swimmers. This year the clarity was still very good at around 15 feet but was limited by the lack of rainfall; the system treats the brooks that run into the pond - so if there is too little rain the system cannot work optimally.

The invasive water weeds that clog up Morses pond are removed by the harvester in a similar fashion to “mowing a lawn”. This year the mowing program has been impacted by the warm spring, which encouraged earlier growth of the weeds, and problems with getting manpower because of COVID-19. In addition the harvester no longer works effectively and this reduced the amount of weed removed for every hour the machine was on the water. The warm weather and increased clarity also resulted in some of the blue-green algae that normally grows on the lake bottom rising up to the top in clumps; but this was only very localized.

The Town has made a great effort to clear enough of the pond so that the residents can safely swim but the harvester cannot go too close to the shallow edges of the pond. The invasive weeds often block shore access and some of the people living on the pond have struggles to clear a path through to open water. The town has started using “benthic barriers” on the Town beach to suppress weed growth. These are sheets that lien the bed of the pond and prevent weeds from rooting in to the bottom. It has been so successful that the Town did not need to install them this year. The Friends of Morses Pond and the NRC will look into the possibility of a limited use of these by private individuals to address their weed problems.

If you want to be a “Friend of Morses Pond” please remind your Town representatives of the importance of replacing the harvester soon, in these difficult times it is even more important that everyone becomes a friend of our wonderful pond.

A video recording of the meeting is available here.