A comparison of nitrogen loading to groundwater from anthropogenic land uses :Sengekontacket Pond (Martha's Vineyard) case study

Keller, Colleen
Joy Ackerman, PhD
Department of Environmental Studies
Nitrogen loading from anthropogenic sources to Sengekontacket Pond, Martha’s Vineyard, is assessed from existing literature and is calculated through the use of a nitrogen loading model. This analysis will quantify and compare the nitrogen loading contributions to the Pond at present and future development levels in order to make informed land use decisions concerning the level of impact proposed developments could have on the ecological health of the Pond. Existing studies on nitrogen loading from land uses such as a golf course, lawn fertilization, forest, wildlife sanctuary, automobile salvage yard, landfill, fresh and saltwater marsh, atmospheric input, septic disposal system, and a sewage treatment plant are reviewed, and used to make loading estimates for the Pond. For comparison, the Hoarsely and Witten Model, a nitrogen loading model, is used to calculate the groundwater nitrogen loading to Sengekontacket Pond from septic disposal systems, fertilizer usage, stormwater runoff and a proposed sewage treatment plant. This assessment was completed for past, present and predicted land uses within the groundwater recharge area of the pond. Nitrogen limits for the Pond are estimated, and the carrying capacity of the land is proposed. This research was initiated in response to a proposed sewage treatment plant within the groundwater recharge area of Sengekontacket Pond. The results of this assessment will help prioritize sources of nitrogen loading to Sengekontacket, enabling local planners and regulators to make more informed land use decisions, to ensure the continued protection of the water quality of Sengekontacket Pond from excessive nutrient loads.

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