Sue and Lynn learned through subtle hints and casual comments from real estate agents, neighbors and landscapers that some things were not allowed while living on a pond - such as phosphorus- containing shampoo in the outdoor shower, or trimming vegetation along the pond’s edge.
"I guess we learned through the grapevine, and it annoyed me,” Searles said. People who were in the know were reluctant to share information that would have helped our pond’s health. “Had we been better informed, we would have acted sooner."
Searles said she would like to work with the Ponds Coalition to produce information about protecting Brewster's ponds for pond front homeowners and visitors, in hopes that this information could be distributed at Town Hall or through real estate agents, in a more timely manner. Sue would like to see this happen at the time of purchase, in the case of pond font property.
"That's the educator in me," she said.
Searles’ experience as a former union president and neighborhood organizer has already been brought to protecting Brewster’s scenic and historic character.
Her activism last year to help defeat a town meeting warrant article that would have changed a portion of Route 6A to high-density commercial zoning from its current village business zoning got Sue involved in the workings of town government. “It wasn’t just a NIMBY issue,” Searles said. “This is our main street.”
She said that experience taught her useful skills for helping the Ponds Coalition advocate for practices and policies that will improve the quality of town ponds.
The BPC's comments to the Board of Health on draft septic regulations, which would help to keep nutrients and pollutants from infiltrating town waters, are a recent example of advocating for ponds at the policy level.
She said, "By learning what the process is, we hope to be able to help others."
Of course, there's the simple joy and beauty of ponds that inspires Searles.
One of her first jobs was as a lifeguard on a small pond. She rowed crew and participated in synchronized swimming. Now, she enjoys quiet outings paddling on the ponds of the Cape.
"So water has always been a thing for me," Searles said.