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
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.