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  • Henry Patterson

Appreciation for a swimmable White Pond

I’m a guy who rented and then bought a little house on the north tip of White Pond forty years ago. Through some rewarding but stressful years of owning and operating restaurants, I often returned home late at night, stripped down and walked right off the end of our dock. The pond’s healing ablution saved my sanity. I sold the restaurants in 1991, but I still end most days in the pond. I start the day that way too.

Imagine my horror when the algae blooms worsened and swimming was banned. Was my long-held plan for my dotage in peril? Suddenly I needed to learn everything I could about cyanobacteria and the nutrients that fed its growth. My neighbors and I confirmed our septic systems were properly maintained. We dug drywells and regraded our gravel road, getting more careful about keeping groundwater away from the pond. We worried that others in the watershed were blithely fertilizing lawns, unaware of the risk.

When Jon Higgins showed up (thank you Beth Kelly!) with his A-POD devices and novel ideas about collecting the algae and the nutrients, I could not have been more psyched. The prevailing winds have always made our north cove a natural collection point for whatever floated on the pond’s surface. “Would we mind terribly if the A-PODs were installed in front of our property?” I said, “Mr. Higgins, are you kidding? Please tie the A-Pod right to our dock! Do whatever you need to do! Could I make you some lunch?”

This is now the third year. Higgins Environmental has removed hundreds of pounds of algae and nutrients from White Pond. The pond has been safe to swim all year and we had 28 feet of visibility in June! (The 30-year average, I’m told, is eighteen feet.)

Jon says he now sees how pine pollen is a major contributor to nutrient loading. Climate change is making the pollen season some twenty days longer, and the daily pollen levels are also 21% higher, so pollen has jumped to the top of the Least Wanted list. The A-Pods collect the pollen and Higgins Environmental takes it away.

The White Pond community cannot claim that algal blooms are behind us or that our water quality is all that we could ask for. The whole world is facing unprecedented changing conditions and more challenges surely lie ahead. Higgins Environmental has demonstrated that intelligent, elegantly simple measures can be taken if we can stay vigilant and be proactive.

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1 Comment

Peter O'Brien
Peter O'Brien
Jul 31, 2023

Thanks Henry, nice story and I’ll observe the visibility more now. I share your appreciation.

Alright Jon and all that help make it happen!

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