Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

League of Women Voters sponsors Warner’s Pond update   

By Betsy Levinson
December 23, 2023

Created in 1857 by damming Nashoba Brook, Warner’s Pond was the subject of a League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle First Friday forum earlier this month. 

Whether or not to remove the dam is a consequential question for the town to decide. 

Director of Natural Resources Delia Kaye noted the 54-acre, town-owned site in West Concord has three islands and “most of the pond is five feet [deep] or less,” causing invasive plants to overspread in the shallow water.  

The NRC was planning to bring a warrant article suggesting the removal of the dam to the 2024 Town Meeting but stepped back due to “some in the community” feeling the process was “moving too fast.” 

Next year, a Warner’s Pond Task Force will evaluate alternatives and recommend a path forward. Kaye said the NRC will likely finalize the task force at a meeting on December 27.  

Kaye’s slides at the recent LWV meeting showed the pond is classified by the Department of Environmental Protection as Class 4A, or “impaired,” as it fills in with sediment.  

The brook upstream and downstream from the pond is healthier, she said. 

The dam causes sediments and nutrients to accumulate, noted Kaye, “which has led to dense growths of aquatic invasive plants, reduced habitat for fish and wildlife and poor water quality.” 

“If the dam were to be removed, this land [including Gerow Park] would not be built upon,” she said. 

Recreational activities such as canoeing and ice skating would not be available if the dam were removed, but other recreational opportunities are under discussion. 

Kaye said the town “has been trying to manage invasives at Warner’s since the 1990s with little to no effect.” 

Three alternatives are under consideration: dam removal; partial dredging with sediment relocation within the pond basin; and taking no action. 

Last year, a bid to dredge selected areas of the pond yielded one respondent and a $9.5 million price tag. The town had allocated $3 million for the project. 

“Removing the dam is the clear path forward,” Kaye said. 

The environmental group OARS supports dam removal, citing federal funding available “for ecological restoration, according to OARS spokesperson Alison Field-Juma.  

Anna Feldweg, representing Friends of Warner’s Pond, argued for preserving the pond and dam as is. 

“Removal is not mandated by the state,” she said. 

“What about exploring other options like a side channel pond?” Feldweg asked, rhetorically. “How will residents access and use the wetland?” 

She said FOWP is glad the article was removed from the 2024 Town Meeting, and for the creation of a task force. 

“Now we have a little time,” she said. “FOWP is hopeful that the full spectrum of stakeholders will be represented.” 

John Coleman suggested separating the brook from the pond through the use of berms.