Members of the USACE New England District Team have recently transformed an environmentally-degraded body of water and surrounding property into a rich, vibrant ecosystem so that birds and fish will return to the area and thrive.
Problems at the Milford Pond in Milford, Massachusetts, began as early as the 1970’s when town residents began to see the once-deep open water areas becoming much shallower and filling in with aquatic plants and organic sediments.
They also discovered the infiltration of an invasive aquatic weed species called milfoil start to take over the pond.
The town studied the decline over the 1980’s and 1990’s, and when the 120-acre pond was choked with milfoil and the depth of the water was less than two feet, the town requested the District’s assistance in 2001.
“The Corps engaged in the project as part of our Section 206 Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program,” said project manager Adam Burnett.
The District completed a detailed project report along with an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact in July 2005, according to Burnett. In August 2005, the District began preparing plans and specifications.
“The Corps of Engineers and the town of Milford as the local sponsor signed a project partnership agreement in 2013,” said Burnett. “The designs, along with permitting and all necessary real estate acquisitions, were completed in 2014.”
The project benefits are many, including restoring the pond to an open-water habitat to emergent and wooded wetland habitats.
The District hydraulically dredged a thick layer of bottom sediment from a 17-acre corridor in the pond and disposed of the sediment in a 30-acre shallow backwater area. This disposal site had been a cedar swamp prior to being flooded with the impounded water behind the constructed dam.
Approximately 168,000 cubic yards of organic-rich sediments were hydraulically dredged and pumped through floating pipes to the disposal area, which was contained by an innovative design using large stacked coir (coconut fiber) rolls surrounding the containment area.
The 17-acre dredged area is now 12 to 13 feet deep and restored to open water and cleared of the choking milfoil.