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Your Lawn and the Pond

Storm Drains


In 2000, the Town of Arlington received a three-year $299,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM) for stormwater management and water quality improvement for Spy Pond. DEM is the state's primary land management and natural resource planning agency. The Town must provide a 25% match, much of which can be in- kind, e.g. in the form of labor. The following activities under this grant are under way or in the planning stage. You may have seen one or more of the first three, which are carried out by volunteers spearheaded by the Spy Pond Committee of the Vision 2020 Environment Task Group.

1. Storm drain marking
Colorful markers on Arlington catchbasins in the Spy Pond watershed, designed by students from the Arlington High School SA YE group, warn "Only Rain Down This Drain," "Dump No Waste," and "Drains to Spy Pond." (Belmont authorities will be contacted for approval to mark the catchbasins in the Belmont part of the watershed.) 

2. Fertilizer flyers 
This project was begun by the Spy Pond Committee several years ago and has now been folded into the public education activities under the grant. Flyers asking the public to avoid feeding the weeds in the pond with runoff from high-phosphorus lawn fertilizer are distributed door-to-door every spring throughout the watershed. 

3. Ecological gardening practices 
Two classes were held at the Habitat Institute in Belmont in March and more are planned: watch for announcements in the Arlington Advocate and on the Town website. Volunteers have also begun propagating native plants, which require less pampering with water and fertilizer, and planting them on Town properties. Some of the results can be seen on the slope beside the Jefferson Cutter House toward the parking lot. 

4. Leaching catchbasins
These are like oversized dry wells to trap the "first flush" of each rainfall, which carries most of the pollutants and debris which have accumulated on the surface since the last rain. They will be installed in approximately 15 of the storm drains entering the pond. The water will pass through a filter around the well and eventually seep through the intervening soil into the pond. Sites for these basins have been tentatively selected. Detailed planning, including identification of utility lines which must be avoided while digging, is the next step. The hands-on work will take place during next year's construction season. 

5. Alum treatment and aeration 
Alum combines with phosphorus in the water and makes it unavailable to the weeds and algae that would like to feast on it. Aeration (blowing air through a hose into the water at the bottom of the pond) helps prevent chemical reactions that would allow release of the phosphorus that is already tied up in sediments. 

Various photos copyright and courtesy of I for Images
Please click on a picture to visit their website.