Dougherty: 'Clean bill of health' for Fresh Pond

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | A sign posted last month by the town at Fresh Pond.

New tests on Fresh Pond have found it to have a “clean bill of health,” according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty.

This comes a month after the town shut the pond to swimming because tests conducted by John Hallman — chairman of the town’s Water Advisory Committee and owner of a private water testing company — found it to be polluted with high levels of phosphorus and fecal coliforms, Mr. Hallman said.

Coliforms are a form of bacteria that can be found in the feces of warm-blooded animals. Also found were high levels of another bacteria called enterococci.

The high levels of contaminants discovered in Fresh Pond placed it on New York State’s “impaired waters” list, which means the pond is too polluted to meet the water quality standards set by the state.

Those test results were taken by Mr. Hallman on September 11. But tests conducted October 23 found there was “conceivably less enterococci,” Mr. Hallman said. “There was still some fecal coliforms but a lot less than it was,” he added.

One explanation for the sea change in results is the lack of significant rain over the last month, Mr. Hallman said, with little runoff going into the pond. “We haven’t had any surface wash back into the pond,” he added.

In the Town’s Watershed Management Plan (WMP), a scientific study of the town’s surface water bodies, which relied on earlier testing, the recommendations for mitigating pollution in the pond were vegetative buffers to prevent storm water runoff, outreach to homeowners informing them how they can reduce phosphorus entering the pond and a waterfowl management plan to control animal feces.

Asked Monday, about the new test results finding lower levels of contaminants, Carrie O’Farrell, a partner with Melville’s Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, the environmental engineering company that conducted the WMP, said she couldn’t comment on the new test, except to say that the plan called for periodic testing of Fresh Pond.