Engineers to remove water lilies from Northborough’s Solomon Pond

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Solomon Pond in Northborough abuts the Casta Diva restaurant and a number of private residences in town. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

NORTHBOROUGH – Plans to remove vegetation from Solomon Pond in Northborough were approved by the Conservation Commission during its Dec. 13 meeting. 

There is no public access to Solomon Pond. 

Homeowners association commissions survey, vegetation management

Environmental engineer Dominic Meringolo and SOLitude Lake Management were hired by the Pond View Homeowners Association in 2019 to survey and recommend management of vegetation in Solomon Pond. 

“Overall, the pond is in pretty good shape,” Meringolo told the Conservation Commission back in November. “There’s no invasive or non-native species aside from some purple loosestrife plants on the shoreline, but in the water itself there’s no non-native species.”

He noted that the entire littoral zone, which is the shore area of the pond, has had heavy growth of water lilies. 

The engineers plan to use mechanical hydro-raking and limited herbicide treatment in front of the Pond View properties, at least initially. Meringolo said it could be beneficial to expand this use throughout the pond.  

Mechanical hydro-raking, he explained, uses a floating backhoe with a rake on the hydraulic arm that’s paddle wheel driven. This will remove water lily root systems and plant materials in about a quarter of an acre in the pond. 

“Really, our goal here is to slow the eutrophication of the lake and thin out some of the native vegetation,” Meringolo said.

Commission discusses plans

In November, Conservation Agent Mia McDonald asked if they could remove a floating island, which is located near the outlet to the pond. She said the outlet was getting clogged regularly. 

That month, the commission and Meringolo further discussed the off-loading area for this project, and he later explained that they planned to have the removed vegetation dewater for a few hours before placing it either in a dumpster or a truck. 

It was originally proposed to be located near the outlet, but the town expressed interest in moving it to a nearby restaurant’s parking lot that was located next to the pond.

“It’s the only outlet to the pond [right] there. So, having a landing area right next to the outlet, we were worried about sedimentation,” McDonald said.

Additionally, the equipment has to be able to move around, she said.

Meringolo said the parking lot may not work because there’s a treeline between it and the water. 

He said they would stay as far away from the outlet as they could, but that they would use the general area and fine tune it when they begin work. 

McDonald asked for protection downstream. So, Meringolo suggested installing a turbidity curtain in front of the outlet, which the commission and McDonald voiced support for.

The floating barriers are commonly seen in construction projects in or around bodies of water, functioning to help contain stirred up silt, sediment, or other debris.

“Avoiding the outlet, not driving over it and adding the turbidity curtain would be helpful,” McDonald said.

Although the commission ultimately issued a notice of intent for managing the vegetation in Solomon Pond, they asked for the engineers to submit plans for the dewatering area before they started work.