NEWBURYPORT — Four underwater aerators were recently installed at the Frog Pond at Bartlet Mall as part of ongoing efforts to clean up the polluted body of water.
The installation was funded with a private donation and the aerators are expected to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the pond — an essential component in supporting a balanced aquatic ecosystem, according to city officials.
The installation follows an effort in summer 2012 to restore the central fountain to working order. Ongoing work aims to increase the volume of water flowing through the fountain, further aerating the pond.
The city’s parks department and the Bartlet Mall Commission are working together to improve the quality of the water so that wildlife, including frogs, can live in the pond.
Parks administrator Lisë Reid said she is consulting with specialists in the field of water cleanup, including staff at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation Lakes and Ponds program, UMass Amherst’s Water Resources Research Center, DeRosa Environmental Consulting, and the Massachusetts Congress of Lakes and Pond Associations.
She said she will soon issue a request for proposals seeking methods of aquatic cleanup projects under similar circumstances. One obstacle to contend with is that there is no moving water in or out of the two-acre pond.
Contaminants enter the pond by way of runoff carrying animal waste, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and road salts. There is also a significant amount of sediment, which has accumulated over the centuries, harboring contaminants and leaving the pond very shallow, which means it heats up easily, encouraging growth of algae.
“We have had many suggestions for effectively cleaning up the pond, from bacterial sediment control to dredging to the innovative P-Pod technology of Higgins Environmental Associates,” Reid said. “Our aim now, before we seek or spend money for the cleanup, is to do our homework and find out what has worked in the past under similar circumstances in other communities.”
There are also plans to install signs warning park visitors about the poor water quality and asking them not to feed the waterfowl.
Bartlet Mall Commissioner Walt Thompson said in a statement, “The commission is working to bring frogs back to the Frog Pond and welcomes any suggestions on how to improve the water quality.”