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City takes steps to keep Winona Pond algae at bay

 By Christopher Roberson

After an algae bloom was found in Winona Pond earlier this year, Mayor Edward Bettencourt is requesting that $100,000 be paid to SOLitude Lake Management to ensure that the pond’s algae levels remain under control.

He said the situation at Crystal Lake is an example of what happens without proactive treatment. Bettencourt said those problems were all avoidable and only happened because the city did not act in time. “For years it was kind of ignored,” said Bettencourt. “We’re spending millions of dollars on the restoration of Crystal Lake.”

In addition to at Winona Pond, SOLitude would take the same preventative measures at Fountain Pond, Brown’s Pond, Suntaug Lake, Sidney’s Pond, Upper Spring Pond and Lower Spring Pond. “It’s important for the city to maintain and protect our ecosystems,” said Bettencourt.

He said Brown’s Pond sits in the middle of a neighborhood. Therefore, protecting that pond would also protect property values. In addition, he said there is a two-mile walking trail that connects Sidney’s Pond with the Spring Ponds, adding that the trail’s construction was funded by a state grant. “They made an investment in Peabody,” said Bettencourt.

Bettencourt will present his proposal to the City Council on June 14. “I think the council will be supportive; there was always unanimous support for Crystal Lake,” he said.

Should the council approve the program, Bettencourt said, it would be included in the city’s budget every year going forward. “This is ongoing maintenance, I don’t think nature is a quick fox,” he said.

Kara Sliwoski, an aquatic biologist and the Northern New England Regional Manager for SOLitude, said she is impressed with Peabody’s proactive approach to protecting its lakes and ponds. “What they’re doing is a pretty awesome program,” she said, adding that other communities only take action when there is a problem. She said algaecide would be applied once a month and water samples taken twice a month.

At 170 acres, Winona Pond is a primary source of drinking water for residents in West Peabody. However, Sliwoski said the pond’s purification system is not completely foolproof.

SOLitude President Marc Bellaud said his company has had an “on-call contract” with the city for the past 20 years; yet there was a greater call to action following the algae bloom. “This past year, there was more going on,” said Bellaud. “We worked with the city to have a full-service treatment program.”

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