Lagoon Pond, like Lake Tashmoo, is a long, narrow inlet. It begins at the drawbridge in Vineyard Haven harbor and ends in a fresh water pond. The value of its marine life is immeasurable: the herring run at the southern tip attracts larger bluefish and striped bass as they chase the bait fish; clamming and scalloping at the northern end draw recreational shellfishermen and are crucial for the island’s commercial fishermen. This is also a perfect area to sail and swim.
Centuries ago, the shores of the Lagoon were home to many small, temporary Indian villages. From spring until fall, the Indians raised cattle on the lands around the Lagoon. As the weather cooled, they moved inland to the hills. Today, a growing population of both seasonal and year-round residents has contributed to making the Lagoon an increasingly unhealthy body of water. The culprits? improper use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers, stormwater runoff and properly functioning Title V septic systems. “Nitrogen loading” from these sources is causing unwelcome growth of plants and algae which not only covers much of the sand that is the natural habitat for shellfish, but also robs the water of needed oxygen and sun, resulting in the demise of eelgrass. Healthy and abundant eelgrass is critical to the Lagoon’s sustainability.
TWI funded a large part of Tisbury’s financial commitment to the Massachusetts Estuaries Project which identifies trouble spots on the Lagoon’s floor and the areas most threatened by lack of oxygen and circulation. Both Oak Bluffs and Tisbury have rezoned many areas here and have put in place stringent regulations for septic systems, size of homes and use of fertilizers and pesticides. TWI is also taking water samples of runoff leading directly into the Lagoon. Our intention is to continue to work with the Town’s Department of Public Works to install first flush catch basins and vegetative, purifying ditches to trap the pollution from this storm water.
One specific area that deserves special attention is the clam flat area southwest of the drawbridge, currently in the process of being replaced, that connects Tisbury to Oak Buffs. We have been working to upgrade the drainage system in the parking lot at the boat ramp, so storm water is treated and filtered before it enters the water.