Milford Pond Restoration Involves Dredging (USA)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing an aquatic ecosystem restoration project to restore Milford Pond in Milford, Mass. Milford Pond is a 120-acre pond located in the center of the town of Milford. The town of Milford is the non-Federal sponsor of this proposed project.

The pond is formed by the impoundment of the Charles River, with inflow from Huckleberry Brook, Louisa Lake, an intermittent stream, and 17 stormwater outfalls. The pond outlet water flows over a small masonry dam and continues as the main channel of the Charles River, which flows through the town of Milford and ultimately to Boston Harbor. Since the late 1970s, Milford Pond has shown a decline in water quality, the proliferation of aquatic weed species, and a significant decrease in aquatic value. Today, Milford Pond is shallow, with an average depth of less than two feet. Submerged and floating-leafed aquatic plants occupy most of the pond area.

Milford Pond provides wildlife habitat for a variety of aquatic organisms living in emergent wetland and shallow pond habitats. However, the fishery habitat value of Milford Pond is greatly reduced by the shallow depths, dense weeds and the low dissolved oxygen in the water resulting from decaying aquatic vegetation. In time, wetland successional processes will result in the gradual filling of Milford Pond and its conversion to an emergent wetland community. This succession will result in further decreased areas of open water habitat, and continued loss of fish habitat. In addition, the gradual succession of Milford Pond will impact the habitat of four state-listed endangered and threatened bird species.

The proposed plan involves dredging of approximately 200,000 cubic yards of organic rich sediment from the southern portion of the pond to a depth of 12 feet and using the dredged sediment to restore emergent and forested wetlands in the northern portion of the impounded area,” said Project Manager Adam Burnett, with the Corps’ New England District, Engineering and Planning Division in Concord, Mass. “Dredging is proposed to extend from the outlet dam northerly to a point slightly north of Clark Island, encompassing an area of approximately 20 acres.”

Dredging will remove a portion of the accumulated, nutrient-rich sediments in the open-water area, thereby inhibiting excessive plant growth. The wetland restoration portion of the project will help to address phosphorous-related water quality problems in Milford Pond, in addition to enhancing fish and wildlife value.

The ecosystem of Milford Pond has been degraded from excess sedimentation and nutrient loading, which has been deposited in the pond via runoff from the urban and wooded watershed. This sedimentation has created eutrophic conditions and impaired water quality. The purpose of the proposed project is to restore the open water aquatic ecosystem in the pond while maintaining the existing vegetated wetlands, create additional emergent wetlands with the potential to restore the historic Atlantic white cedar swamp habitat, provide habitat for fisheries and water birds, and increase recreational opportunities.

A revised Environmental Assessment is being prepared, and any public comments will be addressed in the revised document. A plan proposed in 2004 and 2005 was to hydraulically dredge approximately 45 acres of the pond and pump the material to an upland disposal area north of Dilla Street. However, use of the disposal area north of Dilla Street is no longer feasible. Therefore, the Environmental Assessment is being revised to address the environmental consequences of the new proposal.

Press Release, January 20, 2014

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