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Outlook for the Future
Recommended Further Actions
Water Quality Monitoring Data
|Average Over Years
|TP S mg/L
|TP D mg/L
|Awaiting Data Summary
|Awaiting Data Summary
|2011 - 2016
|Awaiting Data Summary
DOD=Dissolved Oxygen at Depth; TP S=Total Phosphorus at Surface; TP D=Total Phosphorus at Depth; Chl=Chlorophyl.
Secchi ≈ clarity. *State standard for swimming is 4 feet of clarity or 1.2 meters.
Standards Source: State Surface Water Regulations; Cape Cod Nutrient Guidelines
Imagine this story in the local newspaper:
“Large Pond Discovered in Downtown Orleans”
“A sizeable body of freshwater was discovered last week in the heart of downtown Orleans. Town officials confirmed the find yesterday. “I don’t know how we could have missed it all these years,” one was heard to say. ‘”It was hiding in plain sight,” explained another. Efforts to explore the pond’s untapped potential have been launched.”
This fictitious news item contains a kernel of truth. Located in the heart of Orleans, Boland Pond is one of the town’s best-kept secrets.
Bordered by Route 6A, Brewster Cross Road, several school buildings and neighborhood streets, Boland Pond is one of the Cape’s many kettle ponds, deep kettle-shaped indentations in the landscape left by receding glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Artifacts found at the pond have led archeologist Frederick C. Dunford to conclude that some 500 to 1,000 years ago, south-facing areas of the pond were sought out in wintertime by Nauset Indians, who springtime and fall lived in Fort Hill and other more exposed areas.
Longtime Orleans resident Cecil Newcomb, who moved to the area at age 4 and has lived for decades in a house on Route 28 facing the middle school, remembers the pond as a favorite haunt of neighborhood youngsters for catching large-mouth bass, perch, and pickerel and sneaking the occasional cigarette. The pond hosted numerous species of turtles and a bird population that included herons, Canada geese, and ducks. Other residents have fond memories of night-time skating, with lights courtesy of the town. For a time, the pond had an ice house and supported a commercial ice operation.
In the 1950s, a plot of land east of Boland Pond, according to a 1907 map, was owned by Richard C. Nickerson and his wife Audrey Holmes Nickerson. Audrey remembers the construction of Ellis Market (now Friends’ Marketplace) using dirt excavated from the site that became the post office. What had been a peat bog became the Friends’ parking lot. Audrey’s family donated or sold portions of their land to the town, which used it for two schools and the fire station. At the time, other plots belonged to “N. Sears” and” “J. Boland.”
Boland Pond itself takes its name from James Boland Jr. (1872-1927), who is pictured here in his blacksmith shop on the southeast corner of Brewster Cross Road and Route 6A. He served from 1909 to 1922 as town constable, thereafter Barnstable County sheriff. The pond’s namesake is buried in Lot 203 of the town cemetery.
Boland’s house and two out-buildings had a commanding view of the pond. While the pond’s official size has remained at 4.7 acres for as long as anyone can remember, the encroaching vegetation has thickened since his time, rendering large portions of the shoreline inaccessible. Some believe the pond may have lost as much as half of its surface over time.
Like many ponds, Boland is undergoing a process of eutrophication. What is taking place is described by Carolyn Kennedy, a biologist who chairs the town’s Marine and Fresh Water Quality Task Force. “When it rains or snows,” she says, “drainage from nearby roads and parking lots pours into the pond through several pipes. The runoff carries sand, silt, oils from cars, and other chemicals from the roadways and surrounding yards.”
“As sand accumulates at the edge of the pond, the water becomes shallower with each batch of precipitation,” she continues. “Aquatic plants that do well in shallow water become established on these sandbars, with shrubs not far behind. The runoff also brings with it phosphorus, a major fertilizer component, which spurs the growth of aquatic plants. Even the smallest single-celled algae plants utilize this fertilizer to increase their populations. This can lead to unsightly and sometimes toxic algae blooms that turn the water brown or green. “As a result of human activity in its watershed, Boland Pond, like many ponds in town,” she concludes, “is losing water quality with each passing year.” The pond today has more than three times the phosphorus levels of healthy ponds on Cape Cod.
Kennedy flags the need for remedial action. Individual property owners around Boland Pond and elsewhere can help by eliminating lawn fertilizer, creating buffer zones of native plants, and reducing runoff. Establishing compost piles away from pond edges helps insure that as leaves and branches rot, nutrients will not drain into the pond just as fertilizer does.