Pond Size: 7 acres; Maximum depth: 18’
Watershed Size: 29.5 acres
Public Access: 75 Pochet Road 1 acre lot with 3 parking spaces. Second access footpath at end of Uncle Harvey’s Lane.
Uses: Birding, kayaking, freshwater fishing.
▸Phosphorus test results from annual monitoring exceed State fresh water pond standards.
▸Millions of gallons of untreated stormwater from local roads enter the pond annually.
▸Three closures for toxic blue-green algae in the past decade.
▸Internal sediment regeneration of phosphorus is a potential contributor to total phosphorus
available in pond.
Outlook for the Future
▸Town Stormwater remediation efforts may reduce stormwater load.
▸The Orleans Fresh Water Ponds Work Group proposed analyzing inflows, sediment and dissolved oxygen levels in 2017. Potential for full Management plan implementation 2018.
▸Only one undeveloped lot remains at Uncle Harvey’s Pond.
Recommended Further Actions
▸Awaiting completion of management plan by UMass School of Marine Science and Technology
▸Increase depth and density of native plantings in 100’ buffer zone
▸Continue phragmites removal and monitor for presence of Purple Loosestrife
Data Source: PALS, Eichner (2009 & 2017); Stormwater Management Plan, Niles, AMEC 2017.
Uncle Harvey’s Pond is a gift from the era of Wisconsinan glaciation some 15,000 years ago. A large block of ice broke off from the retreating glacier and as it melted sand/gravel deposits formed. It’s very likely that once the ice melted and infiltrated its sandy base, Uncle Harvey’s Pond was simply a hollow in the landscape. In that prehistoric world the coastline was some three miles out to sea from our current Nauset Beach. Sea levels were approximately 150’ lower than they are today. It wasn’t until thousands of years later that the groundwater level rose enough to fill this depression permanently.
From archaeological records and oral traditions we know Native Americans enjoyed the south facing slope of Uncle Harvey’s Pond. A 1991 septic excavation along Pochet Road uncovered an ancient shell midden. This discovery helped researchers understand the native peoples who occupied this pond site from 3,000- 800 years ago. Here the Pochet Highland was a territorial divide between the Monomoyicks and Nauset tribes. This is a watershed delineation based on drainage patterns; today we study the movement of groundwater and the nutrients it carries with it through our ponds. We can speculate that the same conditions that attracted our predecessors to this location are still what attract us today: a lovely, sheltered pond tucked into a hollow surrounded by native vegetation. The pond provides a home to fish, turtles, amphibians, birds and all types of dragonflies and damselflies. People then surely fished these waters as we do today and on a sunny winter’s day basked along its protected south shore.
Native Americans lived lightly on the land, using fires to keep undergrowth controlled for hunting. In 1620 our peninsula had black earth and forests filled with trees. At Uncle Harvey’s Pond there were likely dense stands of vegetation including Clethra (Summersweet), Vaccinium (Blueberries and American Cranberries), Cephalanthus (Buttonbush) and many rushes and sedges. By 1660, the European settlers had completely stripped the earth of trees for shipbuilding and houses. All the black soil was blown away in our windy storms, reducing the land to a barren, desolate space. When Uncle Harvey’s Pond hosted grazing cattle in the early 1900’s a cart road completely encircled the pond and little other vegetation was present.
New federal and local regulations governing the protection of wetlands have strengthened the 100’ buffer around the pond. Now we need to remove unwanted, non-native plants. Reestablishing this buffer, finding remediation techniques for millions of gallons of stormwater, and town wide efforts to control nutrients from septic leaching fields are our immediate challenges. Our love of the beauty, biodiversity and the contribution of Uncle Harvey’s Pond to clean groundwater for Orleans can inspire us. May we heed its call to work on many fronts to reduce the inflow of nutrients and ensure its health for many years to come.
Sources: Cape Cod Commission website; Secrets in the Sand Dunford/O’Brien
Water Quality Monitoring Data
The groundwater flowing into Uncle Harvey’s Pond comes from a northwesterly direction, as shown on the watershed map. Click on the image for a more detailed view.
The pond data collected is used to help asses the health of the pond and any trends in its condition. The Orleans pond sampling program is ongoing and analyses are being done by the UMass School of Marine Science and Technology. The following are some of the main parameters used;
DOD = Dissolved Oxygen at Depth
TP S = Total Phosphorus at Surface
TP D=Total Phosphorus at Depth
Chl = Chlorophyl from floating microscopic algae
Secchi ≈ clarity. *State standard for swimming is 4 feet of clarity
|Average Over Years||Depth (m)||Secchi (m)||DOD mg/L||TP S ppb||TP D ppb||Chl ppb|
|HEALTHY LEVELS||*||≥ 5||≤ 10||≤ 10||≤ 1.7|
|2006-2010||Awaiting Data Summary||!||!||!||!||!|
|2011 - 2016||Awaiting Data Summary||!||!||!||!||!|
Standards Source: State Surface Water Regulations; Cape Cod Nutrient Guidelines