HARVARD -- As 10 years of improved health for Bare Hill Pond was celebrated Aug. 8, the Bare Hill Pond Watershed Committee expressed gratitude to those who made it possible.
Bill Johnson, project leader and grant manager for the pond's drawdown process, expressed appreciation to the Department of Public Works, volunteers and Michele West. West was project manager at Horsley Witten Group, a sustainable environmental engineering firm that helped construct elements that contributed to the pond's health.
The celebration included a tour around the pond to all of the sustainable stormwater and rain gardens. With eight stormwater retrofit sites, only a few of them are visible from the water, while many are a distance away.
Most of the sites, West explained, were designed to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff, mainly phosphorus and sediment, but also bacteria and oils from cars, from impervious surfaces. Impervious surfaces are surfaces that prevent infiltration into the ground, such as roads, parking lots and rooftops. By building the retrofits, any runoff from these surfaces is now filtered prior to reaching the pond.
Horsley Witten Group began its assessment of the pond in 2008, and based on the landscape of each site, a different retrofit was put in place.
The first site is located next to the kayak racks. This version of a stormwater management site was called a wet swale, which provides filtering as the swale runs parallel to the
Johnson also pointed out the barrier wall of rocks that now protects the parking lot and driveway from getting coated with sand during storms. "We didn't do any cleaning up for this event, it's always this clean," Johnson said about the parking lot being rid of wind blown sand.
Another site is located just behind the swing set -- a stone trench with a perforated pipe along the edge of the woods. This stone trench helps to filter runoff from the hillside before it gets to the beach.
The tour continued with a bus ride to the other sites, located near the soccer and baseball fields behind the Library. Johnson stressed how flooded the fields would get every time it rained, and how, since the systems have been put in, flooding has stopped. "Anyone that knows these fields knows that when it rained, right around first and third base would be flooded, but not anymore," Johnson said.
"This was intentional for several reasons," West explained. "First, these (fields) tend to have a lot of open space where there is room to put in stormwater practices, and second, one of the goals of the town was to help reduce the flooding of the fields. So we were able to address both issues during the design."
Aside from the stormwater retrofits, Johnson and West commemorated the pump house and its development. According to Johnson, the building and planning of the pump house was the result of a massive volunteer effort.
"You could not have done this project in Acton," Belle Choate, an Acton resident, said of the volunteer support that Harvard has over many other towns.
"It's not about having a strong volunteer base, it's about having the right people," Johnson responded.