FALL  2016

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Fall on Greenland Pond
Image courtesy of Paul Doutrich



This month marks the second anniversary of the Brewster Ponds Coalition!  While these two years have flown by, we have already accomplished much thanks to the support from all of you in our Brewster community. In 2016, membership grew to more than 300 contributing individuals and families who are committed to protecting our ponds!  Thank you!

In 2017, we continue our strategy of Action, Engagement, and Structure. Educational programs will expand to local schools. We will work with pond and neighborhood groups and implement storm water pollution remediation projects using the newly created Pond Waterfront Improvement Guide.  And, we will continue to grow the BPC into a sustainable organization with focused action teams of volunteers like you.

It takes your ongoing participation and financial support to succeed. Protecting and restoring our ponds is a long term endeavor.  Education, outreach and advocacy must continue to grow.

We're off to a great start!  You have helped to build a strong foundation and your Board of Directors sincerely appreciates all you have done to make this possible.  Please join us as we move forward with our 2nd Annual Appeal this November.

BPC Awarded Americorps Position For
Pond Education Program 

The Brewster Ponds Coalition was recently selected as one of only 20 programs on Cape Cod to be awarded the services of an AmeriCorps volunteer. This one-day-a-week position continues for ten months into July of 2017. The AmeriCorps member will help to develop science-based, educational Pond Kits for use by 

classroom teachers and camp counselors and to create materials for field trips to local ponds for hands-on activities focusing on fresh water ponds.

Pond Kits will include lesson plans and background information for the teacher, equipment for field activities at a local pond and will be age-appropriate kits for the following age groups: Preschool and Kindergarten through grade one; elementary school through grade four; and day camp participants through middle school.  The Family School, The Laurel School, and The Partnership School will participate in development and testing of the kits in their classrooms and day camp programs. Once developed and tested, BPC will make the kits available to other schools.

When the Pond Kits are being used by teachers and camp counselors, BPC will assist with the cost of transportation to a local pond for field activities if walking access or other transportation is not available.

Through the AmeriCorps Cape Cod Environmental Program, Brewster Ponds Coalition will take a major step in addressing our goal of increasing awareness of the declining health of our ponds and teaching young people the importance of being active in caring for them.

Board of Health Hearing Video Now Online
A video recording of the September 21, 2016 Board of Health Hearing re: proposed ponds nutrient regulations is now online.  Click here for link. 
The BPC provided written comment (link here) and a verbal summary at the hearing which starts at 2:00 in the video.  Proposed Board of Health regulations link here.
A Bustling Summer for the BPC   by Judy Pirani

It was a busy summer of education, outreach, and fun for the BPC! First, we unveiled our new interactive Be a Pond Hero game at Brewster Conservation Day on July 9th at Drummer Boy Park. A steady stream of children and adults earned their Pond Hero badges by making pond-friendly choices at the game’s supermarket, home, and pond-edge stations. Thanks to Brewster Conservation Trust for inviting us to participate again this year.

Next up, a first-of-its-kind town event on July 30th— the Pond and Neighborhood Association Summit—a forum to discuss common pond-related issues. Over 40 neighborhood leaders, representing ponds from all around town, gathered at the Brewster Baptist Church. The meeting kicked off with a BPC presentation on the state of Brewster ponds, followed by a productive discussion on issues and actions to keep our ponds healthy.

The decision to move our annual meeting from the fall to the summer boosted turnout significantly.  Over 70 people attended our August 16th meeting at the Captain’s Golf Course. BPC President Tom Vautin recapped 2016 events and outlined 2017 goals and board elections were held. Keynote speaker, Dr. Laurel Schaider of Silent Spring Institute, spoke on Contaminants of Emerging Concern in our waters; followed by an informative Q&A session.

The summer ended on fun note with our first ever Bike to Ponds ride on August 20th. The popular event filled up fast; thirty people rode to ponds throughout Nickerson State Park, with stops along the way and an informative presentation by Naturalist Todd Kelley along the way. Thanks to those who came to our events and we look forward to Summer 2017!

PALS Pond Testing Wraps Up For Fall
Konrad Schultz (l) and Marty Lucenti (r) perform water quality tests on Sol's Pond

The fall PALS (Pond And Lake Stewards) water quality testing was completed in September under the leadership of the Brewster Department of Natural Resources. Twenty-nine ponds were tested by twenty-seven individuals. This important data collection program has been underway since 2001 and has provided a baseline of data that helps to show the trends in our ponds. “Testers noticed lower water levels this year than in the past,” said Ryan Burch, BDNR, who provides leadership on the program. “But, it's too soon to say if this is an indicator of anything.”

This year, the BDNR is looking to upgrade test meters, which have been in use for more than a dozen years, to optical DO (dissolved oxygen) meters recommended by our Science/Technology Team.  A request for funds will be before voters soon. Your support is vital.

If you would like to become a PALS pond tester next spring or fall, or buddy with a current pond tester to learn the ropes, email:   Spring testing occurs during the last two weeks of April and fall testing occurs in mid September each year. Training is available.

Board Member Profile: Susan Day Searles   by Susan Spencer

Sue Searles, an educator, activist and water lover, found a good match between her talents and the Brewster Ponds Coalition.

The 67-year-old retired physical education teacher, originally from Wilbraham, Massachusetts, became interested in issues affecting Cape Cod ponds - and the need to raise greater awareness - after she and her wife, Lynn Corey, bought their house on Lee’s Pond in 2007.

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.

What is it?

Is it a manatee?  An alien life form from beyond?  Click on the picture for a higher resolution image and let us know what you think.  Found on a marker buoy in a local pond during PALS pond testing in September.  Click here to submit your guess.

We Need You To Succeed - VOLUNTEER TODAY!

There are many ways for you to put your talent and time to great use with the Brewster Ponds Coalition.  Action Team members are needed now in all areas including:

Membership and Outreach - Growing the BPC to a sustainable level so that more people are actively playing a role in improving things for our ponds.  

Science and Technology - Help develop the ponds protocols that will help good pond work to begin.

Fundraising and Grant Development - Researching funding sources for pond studies and remediation.

Education - Creating and presenting pond education and awareness programs.

Communications - Website, newsletters, brochures, video development and more.

Email us at or telephone 508-258-9801.

Send Us Your Pond Images!

A big BPC thank you to "enthusiastic amateur photographer" Rob Boas who submitted this beautiful image of Long Pond at sunset taken with his I-Phone 6.

Want to see your pond pictures published in BPC literature and newsletters?  E-mail them to  

PO BOX 459
Follow us on,

Tom Vautin, President
Konrad Schultz, Vice President
Patricia Monahan, Treasurer
Gwen Pelletier, Clerk
John Keith, Science and Technical Team Liason
Karen Malkus-Benjamin, Education Team Liaison
Judy Pirani, Communications Team
Susan Day Searles, Education and Events Teams Liason
Dawn Walnut, Membership Team Liaison

Communications - Jim Holland, Susan Spencer, Lee Cornelison
Finance - Roger Normand
Nominating - Fred Budreski
Science and Technology - John O'Reilly

Konrad Schultz, Gwen Pelletier, Judy Pirani, Susan Spencer, Tom Vautin

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Brewster Ponds Coalition · P.O. Box 459 · Brewster, MA 02631 · USA

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