The Friends of Green Hill Pond (FOGHP) is a local organization dedicated to the goal of the rehabilitation of Green Hill Pond’s aquatic health with the stated objective of the restoration of public Shellfishing in the pond through improved water circulation. The first stage in their roadmap is to obtain $100,000 for a study that would identify the most effective approach in the effort to achieve the goal. The group will be making appeals to the Charlestown and South Kingstown town governments as well as to the state government to provide the funds that would support the study to be carried-out by URI personnel. During those governmental petitions, they would like to be able to say that they have the support of x number of local association that represent y number of citizens.
As the members of the Board of Directors for the Green Hill Civic Association as well as advisors to the officers, I’m requesting that you speak for our constituency with regard to request for the funding of this study (from the aforementioned government agencies). Based upon your collective opinion I’ll determine whether to allow the FOGHP to include our support while soliciting the funding from our local and state governments.
A little background:
There are two basic types of pollution that adversely affects Green Hill Pond; both of which are severe.
- There are two distinct pollutants responsible for the pond’s decline:
§ In general, high nitrogen leads to increased plant life growth. And the decay of that plant life leads to reduced available oxygen in the pond. That then stifles the ability for aquatic animal life to survive.
§ Over 70% comes from human activity: septic systems, fertilizer usage and pet waste.
o Fecal Coliform Bacteria
§ Pollutes shellfish and makes them unfit for human consumption
§ Prevents the full pond from being safely used for swimming and other aquatic recreational activities
§ 70% of Fecal Coliform pollution comes from Waterfowl and Wildlife
While there have been laudable efforts to reduce nitrogen via the upgrading of septic systems as well as the requiring of regular septic inspections along with efforts to reducing pollution from pet waste, fertilizer usage and waterfowl population thinning, these efforts, by themselves, won’t attain the desired goals. And, with regard to the goal of shellfish restoration, very little can be done from prevention efforts to accomplish that goal since the primary source of fecal coliform is wildlife and waterfowl.
The only successful way to overcome the level of fecal coliform (as well as nitrogen pollutants) is to improve ocean flushing of the pond. This can be done either through: dredging a channel from Ninigret through to Green Hill Pond; opening a temporary breachway to the sound (with repeated openings); or opening a permanent breachway to the sound. Personally, I suspect that the only solid solution to the problem is a permanent breachway to the sound. I also believe that will be the most expensive solution and the one that has the lowest probability of success (because of the expense as well as the political barriers that would have to be surmounted). I find the idea of maintain support for the repeated breaching of the barrier beach one that would garner little enthusiasm. I believe, then, that the only viable approach to be the dredging of the existing channel from Ninigret to GH Pond. And that may not result in a complete reduction of pollutants because of insufficient flow. At the very least, however, it should significantly improve the health of the pond.
So, I support the soliciting of the funds for this study because a thorough and detailed study may well unveil successful approaches for the proposed dredging and, for a relatively low funding level, may point the way to a clean pond after many, many years of very poor quality. In addition. it should provide the funding and logistics required to accomplish this approach so that an accurate and informed decision might be made.
I look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts and opinions regarding this proposal.