Help Preserve Morses Pond
All ponds have a predictable life-cycle 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. The number one cause of poor water quality in Morses Pond is excess plant food. Lawn fertilizer and stormwater runoff provide a continuous source of excess food to the pond. 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. Residents can help keep the pond healthy and the tap water clean. You may be shocked to learn that some seemingly insignificant actions can have significant impacts to the watershed. A few minor adjustments in washing your car and caring for your lawn can make leaps in improving the health of the watershed. If every land-owner in the watershed minimized or eliminated their contribution of un-intended plant food, water quality in the pond would improve and the cost of water supply services and pond management would decrease.
Smart Lawn Care
The number one thing you can do to improve the quality of water in your watershed. Practice smart lawn care.
Use minimal amounts of fertilizer on your lawn and garden, or better yet don’t use any. There is a whole spectrum of yard care techniques that vary in maintenance and material requirements. Whether you want to maintain your carpet of soft green or are willing to transition to zero-input, zero-work all-natural, there is a solution that can work for you.
- Plant hardy grass that uses little fertilizer and water.
- Leave grass clippings in place, they reduce the need for additional plant food.
- Maintain a healthy soil pH.
- Mow high and keep mower blades sharp.
- Use ‘biological’ pesticides such as nematodes, manatids, milky spore, and ladybugs.
- Hire a landscape service that has pledged to use “watershed friendly” techniques.
- Over-fertilize your lawn .
- Wash your car on the street.
- Use chemical pesticides.
Whether you use organic or chemical fertilizer, cow manure or fish meal, all fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—nutrients that help both the plants on your lawn and the plants in your pond grow.
Unless you apply the exact amount of fertilizer your lawn needs when it needs it, you may be contributing to excess nutrients and explosions of weed growth in your local pond.
What happens to the excess fertilizer? Some seeps into ground water and slowly makes its way to the nearest body of water contaminating groundwater supplies along the way. Most of the excess fertilizer washes off the lawn into the street and down into storm drains; the storm drains fast-track the excess directly into the nearest body of water.
Your lawn will need fertilizer if the proper soil conditions are not maintained naturally. Recycle your fertilizer by leaving grass clippings in place. Don’t use pesticides. Make sure “good” bugs and earthworms can survive the conditions on your lawn.
Chemical pesticides are effective at killing just about every insect living in your lawn and garden. Many chemical pesticides are neurotoxins and may be harmful to humans in small and large doses. The Town of Wellesley has made a commitment to eliminate pesticide use on public lands to protect the health and welfare of residents. Keep pesticides off your children’s play areas, shoes, and bedroom carpets. Use biological controls to naturally eliminate pests and maintain “good” bugs in the soil. For example, control grubs and Japanese Beatles by applying beneficial nematodes and milky spore.
Check out the Read Your Weeds Guide to identify your weeds and determine what they’re trying to tell you about your lawn conditions.
Know Your Storm Drain Network
What about those curbside grates and drains scattered throughout your neighborhood? Well, if you live in the watershed, they are a direct pipeline to Morses Pond. If you live anywhere else, they a direct pipeline to another body of water. As water falls on roads and other impervious surfaces, gravity carries the water to the curbside grates and storm drains. Underneath the grates lie a network of pipes that direct the water into the tributaries, streams, and ponds that flow into Morses Pond.
Never dump hazardous materials into the drains. The storm grates are entry points for every non-point source pollutant that can fit through the grates including lawn and road runoff. Remember, the water that enters the grates eventually comes out in your kitchen sink.
Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens
Roofs make up a significant amount of our watershed’s surface area. They’re engineered to drain to certain locations. If you strategically place barrels to catch the water draining off your roof, you can gather large quantities of water from even small rainstorms. It’s cheap, efficient, and brilliant. It means a little less runoff and you’ll save money and resources as you use that to water on your garden and lawn.
A rain garden is an advanced home-owner tool for capturing and treating stormwater runoff. Rain gardens help your watershed and compliment your home like any other garden. To learn more about Rain Gardens and things you can do on your property, check out the Rain Garden Network.
Safe Septic Systems
Eliminate septic systems and connect to the town sewer facilities. Wellesley built the facilities in 1970. All but 75 homes in the watershed hook into the town sewer; three of these homes are on the shores of Morses Pond. Good Job Wellesley, you’re almost there!
Smart Car Washing
- Use phosphate-free soaps to wash your car.
- Wash your car on your lawn instead of your driveway.
Don’t let the wash water from your car run down the street into the storm drain. If you wash your car at home, wash your car on your lawn. You will simultaneously water your lawn, fertilize your lawn, and provide remediation for a manageable quantity of road dirt.
If you don’t want road dirt on your lawn, take your car to a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes capture the dirty water and send it through the municipal sewer system to be treated.
Low Impact Development (LID)
Build and buy dwellings fitted with Low Impact Development (LID) solutions. LID is the practice of managing runoff at the source--mitigating pollutants before they become a problem. Wellesley is practicing LID solutions at various locations in town.
Use porous concrete and asphalt: You can purchase porous Portland cement, as well as porous asphalt. They allow water to percolate through the ground, as it would naturally without the roads or parking lots.
Disconnect impervious areas: Storm drains fast-track pollutants to Morses. If runoff can cross natural, porous ground before entering the storm drains, it has a chance to filter naturally.
To learn more about LIDs, check out the Low Impact Development Toolkit provided by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.