Editorial: Keeping it clean
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Yes, Medfield has many ponds that need to be cleaned up.
One way to reverse that is for the Conservation Commission and Department of Public Works to work more closely together, burying the axe.
But homeowners need to work on the problem, too.
Fertilizer, pesticides, phosphorus and other material that are used on lawns and eventually will end up in the ponds.
Properties need not abut the ponds for this to happen.
Run off of nutrients from by human activity and fertilizers can still end up in the ponds, stirring a greater algae bloom affect than nature calls for.
The issue is not simple. But not impossible to handle.
According to Kate Bowditch, of the Charles River Watershed Association, the main cause of algae bloom in urban areas is usually attributed phosphorus, a nutrient found in fertilizers.
Also, natural sources release phosphorus, such as soil, rocks and decomposing plant material.
Human contribution to phosphorus can also be attributed to things such as car washes.
Part of the solution is looking at the whole problem.
"It's a mistake to focus on only one source because our experience is that you need to identify all of the sources and try to get each source into some improvement," said Bowditch. "Certainly it doesn't make sense to fix the ponds unless you have fixed the sources of the problems."
Large green fields, farms and playing fields, need to be looked at.
Bowditch would also recommend that people look at low-phosphorus fertilizers. For caretakers of large green fields, there are guidelines.
But the main issue for Bowditch is for towns to act as one.
"If everyone points the finger at everyone else, then nothing will ever get done. From our perspective, the best thing to do is to get everybody to work on the problem," she said.
Medfield's Pesticides Subcommittee, a division of the Board of Health, has been formed to address ways to reduce the toxic impact and educate people about proper lawn treatment.
Michael Lueders, a subcommittee member and owner of Lueders Environmental Inc., said there are a number of causes that creates vegetation bloom in ponds.
The best types of fertilizers for home lawns are the natural or organic kinds, he said.
If using the traditional fertilizers, Lueders recommends people apply them more frequently but in moderation.
Pesticides "have a place in the care of landscape," Lueders said people should look at all the problems before relying on pesticides.
Leslee Willitts, Conservation Commission agent, who is forming a group of people to assess the cleaning of the ponds in town, said usually people's mentality are bound to believe that "the more fertilizers the better it is." That is wrong.
For homeowners, there are some practices and materials that will help if the whole town cooperates.
Who fixes the ponds is not important - what is important is they get fixed.
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