Dredging Town Pond

Following up on our last e-Newsletter about dredging at Georgica Pond, you may have noticed that dredging has also begun at Town Pond in the heart of East Hampton Village. High praise is due the Village of East Hampton for forging on with this challenging project. The recommendation to dredge Town Pond was made in a study by Lombardo Associates back in April 2015. Successful dredging of Town Pond will accomplish a number of objectives.

Heavy equipment removes the dark pond bottom muck.

Although Town Pond is manmade, the natural function it performs as a major tributary to Hook Pond is vital. Town Pond serves as a large detention basin and receives run off from the surrounding land and roads. Over the years it has filled up with sediment. This sediment—a dark rich-looking soil—is filled with phosphorous. The excess phosphorous along with the shallow warm water are contributing factors to the algal blooms we have seen at the pond for many years.

We hear a lot about nitrogen as a problem nutrient when overabundant in water bodies, but phosphorous can be equally problematic, especially in fresh water bodies. Phosphorous is known to bond to organic matter and that is why it is found in pond-bottom sediment. The organic Georgica Pond sediment is also rich in phosphorous. According to Billy Hajek, the Environmental Planner for the Village of East Hampton, high levels of phosphorous were detected in Town Pond sediments.

Back in 2016, sediment cores were taken from Town Pond to be analyzed. The good news is that the sediment was determined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to be non-toxic and can be re-used as a soil amendment. This is referred to as a BUD (Beneficial Use Determination).

A specially fitted rig enabled the cores to be drilled.
The long dark column on the table is a sediment core.

The experience of dredging Town Pond will be very helpful and illuminating for future dredging projects at Georgica, Wainscott and Hook ponds. The take home message about dredging fine pond sediment is that:      

  • It is a long process
  • It requires extensive study
  • It is very costly
  • It creates significant disturbance during the process which requires restoration

Once the dredging is completed and the shoreline restored, Town Pond, one of our most beloved landmarks, will be back in business with improved stormwater retention abilities, better filtration and fewer algal blooms. In turn, Hook Pond will be better off too.

Special thanks to Dell Cullum and volunteers from Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons for relocating several Red-Eared Slider Turtles during the project.