West Tisbury selectmen draft response to state nitrogen report

A mysterious red algae bloom appeared in the Tisbury Great Pond in June. —David Welch

West Tisbury selectmen agreed at their August 23 meeting to draft a response letter to a Tisbury Great Pond nitrogen draft report submitted to them by the commonwealth in July. The state report pointed to agriculture as the primary source of nitrogen influx in both the Tisbury Great Pond and the adjacent Black Point Pond in Chilmark, but it also cited septic systems and fertilizers as major contributing factors. The report also noted a decline in eelgrass and recurrent algae blooms, and recommended adopting specific monitoring plans.

In their pending letter, the selectmen opted to reference points made in a private letter sent to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection by selectman Kent Healy — a civil engineer, and a waterfront homeowner at the pond. In his letter, Mr. Healy wrote, “Eelgrass has never grown in the brackish water of the main pond, and only in patches just inside the barrier beach …” Mr. Healy also wrote that despite algae blooms over the past two decades, “oysters, clams, and blue claw crabs have been abundant.”

The selectmen agreed to state in their letter that monitoring currently conducted by the Riparian Owners of Tisbury Great Pond, the town’s conservation committee, the town’s shellfish committee, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission adequately tracked the health of the pond.

Town administrator Jennifer Rand said she expected to have a draft of the letter ready for the selectmen’s review shortly.