WRWA is working on an in-depth scientific study to determine the health of the pond and factors that may be affecting it.
WRWA is also working with SMAST Scientists on a project will use the waters of Cockeast Pond as a natural laboratory to quantify the utility of oysters in removing excess nitrogen to promote estuarine restoration. Click this link for more information on this project.
August 2016 – Research UPDATE:
Phase 1 has been completed – Click the link to access the technical memo which summarizes the results:
Presentation from 2016 on First Year Study Results
The Importance of Cockeast Pond
- Unique and diverse habitat for numerous species of plants and animals.
- A buffer for flooding, storm surges, nutrient pollution, climate changes.
- Esthetic, recreational, and economic benefits for those who see and use it.
What Are the Issues?
- WRWA has examined pond water quality for past 7 years to create baseline data.
- Pollution due to increased nitrogen loading is of particular concern.
- More and larger algal blooms and increased plant growth degrade the pond ecosystem and affect its use.
- The pond contributes nitrogen to the Westport River, which is already above its healthy limit for that nutrient.
- Our goals: to determine how tidal flushing, Hurricane Sandy, surrounding land use, and other factors may be affecting the Pond’s health and develop an action plan to address any adverse changes.
The Scientific Study is a multi-step, phased study to:
- Determine the extent of the pond’s change in water chemistry and ecological health.
- Identify causes of the change.
- Recommend actions for remediating, restoring and maintaining the pond’s health.
- A cooperative effort between WRWA, UMass Dartmouth, and stakeholders.
- Cost: $28,000—from private contributions
- Data collection on water circulation, biology,and other measures
- Tide gauges (3) circulation measurement component
- Bathymetry—circulation measurement component
- Tidal Flux—circulation measurement component
- Benthic grabs—sampling of sediments to determine species and populations of inhabitants, which is an indicator of pond health
- Land use data—determine site-specific land uses and the associated nitrogen loads
- Macroalgal studies—a look at the populations of large algal species within the pond
- Reporting and project management
Phase 2 :
- Cost: ~ $31,000—from grants
- Data collection, modeling, and final report with management recommendations
- Habitat assessment—determine the health and diversity of flora and fauna of the pond ecosystem
- Historical ecosystem study—an investigation of historic biological and ecological conditions
- Time-series water column oxygen measurements— measurement of oxygen levels, an indicator of pond health
- Benthic nitrogen regeneration in bottom sediments— determine how nitrogen is cycled within the pond and determine sinks and sources of nitrogen
- Presentation to stakeholders
Funding and Stakeholder Involvement
Stakeholders are invited to invest the study by:
- Providing financial support
- Sharing observations on the health of the pond and factors that may be affecting it
Contributions for this important study can be made by check payable to WRWA, PO Box 3427, Westport, MA 02790, or by credit card on the WRWA website. Please be sure to designate funds to the Cockeast Pond Study. Contributions are 100% tax deductible. http://westportwatershed.org/2011/01/cockeast-pond-study/
Presentation from 2015 on Proposed Study