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$2 Million Estimate for Milford Pond Restoration

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will take about $5 million dollars to restore sections of the 120-acre Milford Pond. The proposed work involves dredging 22 acres in the southern section of the pond to re-establish a deep water habitat and using that fill to build a cedar swamp wetlands in 22 acres in the northern section.



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will take about $5 million dollars to restore sections of the 120-acre Milford Pond – with $3 million paid by the federal agency and the town's share as high as $2 million, if no state aid is available. The proposed work involves dredging 22 acres in the southern section of the pond to re-establish a deep water habitat and using that fill to build a cedar swamp wetlands in 22 acres in the northern section.

The cost estimates were delivered at an August 23 roundtable discussion at Milford Town Hall among officials from the Corps of Engineers, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state Department of Environmental Affairs and the town. Larry Oliver from the Corps of Engineers gave the cost projection.

The creation of a new cedar swamp wetlands "would actually restore a portion of what was there originally," said Adam Burnett, project manager for the Corps of Engineers, referring to Milford Pond's original name of "Cedar Swamp Pond." His agency has successfully rebuilt similar cedar wetlands in Virginia and New Jersey, Burnett explained. "You're using the dredged material beneficially," commented Kenneth Levitt, a biologist with the Corps of Engineers.

Various officials discussed how the dredging could help the town reduce the level of phosphorus in the pond and hopefully earn Milford a credit against the stormwater management requirements the EPA is seeking to impose on the towns of Milford, Bellingham and Franklin. By putting the dredged material in a wetlands area, any phosphorus within it would be "locked in" the plantings and somewhat purified, they discussed. Also, the dredging would eliminate weed growth and end an annual cycle of rotting vegetation that releases nutrients into the water, they added.

"I'm hoping that the town can get some kind of credit for removing this phosphorus from the ecosystem," said Tom Jenkins of GZA Geoenvironmental Technologies, Inc., the town's consultant on Milford Pond and stormwater management.

In terms of going ahead with the plan, Burnett said the Corps of Engineers will finish its planning during the next three months. His agency will proceed with obtaining federal permits, but the town is responsible for obtaining all state and local permits, he said. Jenkins said that process would take about six months. In order to proceed any further beyond the planning stage, Oliver explained, the town would have to sign a contract with the Corps of Engineers and reimburse it the $500,000 to $700,000 it has spent to date.

Town Treasurer Barbara Auger asked the officials for the cost estimates and when money would have to be borrowed or appropriated. The project is 65-percent funded by the federal government and 35 percent by the state and the town, Burnett explained. Jenkins added that the town needs about $25,000 to restore the two gates in the pond's dam to working condition. "In a $5 million project, it's not a very big component," he said.

"We won't sign that agreement until we have all the funding lined up," Town Engineer Michael Santora said. "The Town of Milford is not going to do anything it can't afford," Selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said. Santora distributed a memo showing that the town has appropriated $194,000 for the pond restoration at past town meetings, with two local businesses contributing another $33,000.




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