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Ponkapoag Golf Course Water Supply Development & Ecological Monitoring
The Ponkapoag Golf Course is a 27-hole, Donald Ross-designed course that is owned and operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MassDCR). To supplement its irrigation needs, the golf course withdraws water from Ponkapoag Bog and Pond, an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) within the Neponset River Watershed. ESS was retained to monitor and assess the effects of water withdrawal on the bog and pond ecosystem.
Supplemental irrigation needs for the golf course are supplied by Ponkapoag Brook, which is in turn fed by Ponkapoag Pond. The pond supports an Atlantic White Cedar swamp and quaking sphagnum bog. It is a National Natural Landmark utilized by six state-listed rare, threatened, or endangered invertebrate species. To document the effects of water withdrawals, ESS is assisting the MassDCR Division of Planning and Engineering with an extensive, multi-year hydrologic and rare species monitoring program.
This monitoring effort was developed to identify and document effects resulting from the water management plan at Ponkapoag Pond on the hydrology, plant communities, and rare species of Ponkapoag Bog and Pond. This is done in accordance with the recommended site monitoring plan approved by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) and the Order of Conditions issued by the Town of Canton.
In addition to the ongoing monitoring efforts, ESS performed a hydrogeologic field investigation to identify candidate locations for groundwater withdrawals that would meet the course’s future irrigation needs. Test wells were installed and short-term aquifer yield tests were performed to obtain hydrogeologic data used to evaluate the transmissivity of the aquifer sediments and potential yields of the wells. ESS developed groundwater models of the potential irrigation well withdrawal scenarios.
ESS records measurements of groundwater elevations observed in piezometers in the bog and surface water elevations observed within the pond during each monitoring period, which generally runs from May to October. Measurements of stream discharge and flow are collected from the outlet of the pond to study the effects of water withdrawal on aquatic base flow. ESS conducts meander surveys through the bog to document observations of rare invertebrates. Further, ESS evaluates changes in vegetative communities, peat depth, and soils as recorded at established monitoring plots throughout the wetland system.
ESS prepares an annual report to summarize the results of the environmental monitoring activities conducted at Ponkapoag Pond and Bog during each monitoring period. ESS also recently completed a 15-year summary report to identify and characterize long-term hydrologic and ecological trends. All reports are distributed to MassDCR, NHESP, and the Canton Conservation Commission.
ESS continues to provide regulatory support and management recommendations to MassDCR based on the data collected.