Remove the Bunker, save the ponds


To the Editor:

Back in 1987 an article in the Gazette caught my attention. The Mass Department of Environmental Management (DEM) had awarded a grant to remove the bunker at Katama. I had thought about how to remove it already because it had been in the news and I had worked with a kid who broke his neck diving off the bunker in 1967.

I wanted to get the job so I contacted the DEM and spoke to the head man, Mr. Cavanaugh. I asked Mr. Cavanaugh how I would proceed to bid on the project. He informed me that first the state had to determine how to do the job so they could put it out to bid. I responded by telling him that I knew how to do the job and the “how” is what I was bringing to the table. I further told him that all I needed from the state was the number of feet below mean low water level they wanted the bunker to be so it would not be a future navigational hazard. Mr. Cavanaugh explained that is just not how government processes work and the state would have to determine the process and put it out to bid. We chatted for a while longer and I realized I was not going to get anywhere so I said to him, “so the bottom line is that the state will study the project and the money will be used up and the Bunker will stay right where it is.” He agreed, that was what was going to happen and as we see, 24 years later, that is what has happened. The bunker is still there.

I recently requested Gazette stories about the bunker from the archivist and when I picked them up I told the young lady at the desk what the articles were for and I wondered where the bunker was today. I was told by the young lady that her father had pointed it out to her and that it can still be seen between the swells at low tide. I think it is time to eliminate this hazard.

Here is the method I intended to employ to rid us of this hazard. There are a few details missing, but here is the basic plan.

The project would be done from the beach with a crew of four divers. The project can be done weather permitting and in stages if needed but it is also a fairly quick process that can be done when it is calm on the south shore. All that is required is to bring a small, 100 to 150 cubic feet per minute diesel air compressor out to the beach. A small skiff may be helpful. We also need eight 20-foot lengths of ¼” or ⅜” black iron pipe with couplings and straight pressure washer nozzles on the ends of the pipes, 8 ball valves and a bunch of air hose. One large air hose runs out to the area which manifolds off to eight hoses. Connect the hoses to the eight 20-foot pipes with a ball valve 10 feet or so from the end of the pipe so a diver can control the airflow while pushing two pipes on each side of the bunker, on a 45 degree angle until the pipe nozzle end is four feet or so under the bunker. Open all the air valves and as the air blows out under the bunker it will sink out of sight. As the bunker sinks the black iron air pipes will bend to 90 degrees leaving eight air nozzles under the cement slab. If the bunker starts to tilt each line can be controlled individually so the angle of descent can be controlled if necessary. The bunker might disappear in less than an hour. It might take all day, but even if it took a week it is a cheap way, and probably the only way, to make the old bunker disappear.

Government does this to us, the taxpayer, constantly. Study, study, study and then study some more. Job security for them and taxes for us with no results.

The current state money grab is the ongoing 12-plus-year-old Mass. Estuaries Project. I hope some news agency will do an investigation into the money consumed by these people at the state DEP and UMass Dartmouth. I have been in contact with Brian Dudley, head of the DEP and Brian Howes, head of the estuaries project and chief money raiser, a professor at UMass Dartmouth, and their staffs. These people have no interest in actually solving the problems resulting in the death of our ponds and estuaries. Their focus is almost solely source reduction. This means rules and regulations, expensive septic systems and the biggest lie of all is wastewater treatment plants, which are likely to cause more problems in the future than solve them. The more I have learned about dissolved oxygen (DO) control and how it has been used globally and in the states since 1987, the more I realized how angry we should be that the estuaries were allowed to die in the first place.

Neither of these two people or their staffs have any intellectual or scientific curiosity. They really do not like to be challenged on their failure to accomplish anything for our $12 million, plus much more that we are, as of yet, unaware of. Brian Howes told me to not contact him or his staff. A rather egotistical attitude for a state employee.

The ponds can be saved, but as long as we the people do not demand results for our tax dollars and our environment I can guarantee you the ponds are dead forever. This is unnecessary and, to me at least, unacceptable. It is going to take a lot of oxygen to get ahead of oxygen demand.

Another example. This is the third time in my lifetime the culvert at Farm Pond is being discussed to save the pond. The pond has never been saved. I believe it could be saved for about $40,000, plus some electricity. The Lagoon, $250,000, Sengekontacket, $250,000 rather than the billion dollars to pay for proposed waste water treatment plants which will do nothing to reverse the death of the ponds but will take so long that by then no one will remember what the ponds looked like when they were healthy. Many people are already unaware of what the ponds bottoms are supposed to look like.

If you are interested in saving our waterways please go to the facebook group: Saving Our Estuaries Project. I have put many articles about ponds, pond maintenance, aeration, global DO management practices and more with the hope that more people will educate themselves and will then stand up and demand results for our tax dollars and our estuaries.

Donald Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs