ShoreRivers Partners on Pond Restoration

ShoreRivers has been awarded a $19,000 grant from Chesapeake Bay Trust to support the Town of Templeville’s restoration efforts at their town park by installing a denitrification wall around the north shoreline of the park’s pond.

In the past, the park and its pond were a gathering place and local fishing spot for town residents; but it has deteriorated over time. Unfortunately, the park area is now overgrown with invasive and nuisance weeds, and the increased load of nutrients has turned the pond eutrophic, or overly rich in nutrients. While discussing the current conditions, Mayor Helen Knotts said, “I remember when the neighborhood kids would fish and play in the park. The commissioners and I are very excited to work to restore the space as a great place for kids and families again.”

Pictured is an example of an installation of a denitrification wall similar to the one that will be installed by ShoreRivers around the north shoreline of the pond at Templeville park.

The town has a long-standing interest in returning the park to a suitable gathering place where local residents may once again spend time and recreate. In order to accomplish this, sources of nutrients must be reduced, and groundwater and surface water need to be better managed.

In 2017, the town was awarded a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant for community outreach and to design a plan to address the residential management of polluted runoff that affects the park. Town officials are currently working to secure funds to implement the practices identified in the plan. Meanwhile, ShoreRivers worked with Chesapeake Biological Lab (CBL) to test water and better understand the sources of nutrients that are impacting it. In 2018, researchers from CBL took water samples from several locations around the pond and tested them for sucralose. Also known as artificial sweetener and used in many diet foods consumed by humans, sucralose does not break down in the body or in septic systems. Therefore, the presence of sucralose in surface waters can be an indicator of domestic wastewater entering the pond.

Infographic of denitrification filter wall, which intercepts groundwater and filters nutrients.

“Domestic wastewater is a threat to human and environmental health and can cause serious waterborne illnesses when people like fisherman, boaters, and swimmers come in contact with it,” says Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “We were excited to apply cutting-edge research on sucralose testing as a way to scientifically identify what is impacting the town pond and how it should be addressed.”

One solution that will be implemented is the installation of a denitrification filter wall, which will intercept groundwater and filter nutrients passing through. A four-foot deep and three-foot wide trench will be filled with local sawdust that acts as a carbon source to grow the bacteria needed to break down nitrogen in the water. Once installed, the wall is covered over with soil and planted with grass, resulting in an attractive camouflage of the wall. Only a handful of these practices have been installed in Maryland, with another having been installed by ShoreRivers on a dairy farm in Caroline County.

To kick-off these efforts, the town will host a volunteer cleanup of debris and overgrown vegetation in the park area. This cleanup will be part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay Project Clean Stream, and is tentatively scheduled for early April. Contact the Town of Templeville Town Manager Cindy Burns at cburns@mrdc.net for more information and to sign up. Other project partners include Caroline County, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension, and local residents in Templeville.

For more information, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at mpluta@shorerivers.org or 443.385.0511 ext 203.

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

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