Bishopville Pond to get ecological overhaul next year
BISHOPVILLE — After several years of planning by various county and state agencies, as well as private organizations, Bishopville Pond will undergo a major renovation to aid fish attempting to spawn upstream and to improve the headwaters of the St. Martin River.
The pond, which was created by a dam at the northern tip of what is known as Bunting’s Branch, had suffered for years because of pollution filtering down from streams in Delaware.
“There needs to be constant flow up and down the river, and the dam has to be opened up for fish and other animals can pass through,” said Roman Jensien, science coordinator of Maryland Coastal Bays.
The local organization that is working with the state Department of Natural Resources, the Department of the Environment, the State Highway Administration and a number of other entities to complete a project that has been in discussion for about 10 years.
The main concern, according to Jensien, is that the design of the dam that was built more than 50 years ago in Bishopville Pond beside Route 367, just past Jarvis Road, did not take long-term sustainability into consideration.
Because Bishopville Pond empties into the Isle of Wright Bay through St. Martins River, this causes serious concern for the fish such as herring that travel up-stream to spawn. The dam not only keeps the water back, it also prevents these fish from reaching the most suitable areas for spawning.
"Fish, like herring, like to get to upper portions of streams where there is a lot of debris for eggs to attach to," said Kevin Smith, chief of restoration services for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Also other wildlife, such as turtles, is forced to find ways around the dam, a circumstance that inevitably leads to the road itself.
The old dam, however, will be replaced by a “fish ladder,” or a stream that rises in a series of pools that will allow fish to swim up the waterway with ease.
Known as weirs, a series of small drop-offs that create waterfall-like effects will also to improve the flow in that area.
“You will see a flowing stream traveling through the bridge that allows animals to easily pass through,” Jensien said.
Along with the work to increase flow, two of the five acres of the pond will be eliminated to clean up the water.
Dredging will occur in one section of the pond to remove polluted sediment and sand berms will be placed to cover any contaminates the sediments could release into the pond.
“Once the berms are installed, the sediments will be locked in and unable to continue damaging the pond,” said Jensien.
Vegetation will also be planted throughout the pond, which, as they absorb various chemicals, also will improve the water quality.
According to Smith, new vegetation will oxygenize the water, which results in more clear waterway and a less rotten odor.
“Once this is complete, more than a mile of stream networks will be provided with nutrients,” Jensien said.
A group of Atlantic White cedar trees will be planted next to the pond, which will benefit the area functionally and aesthetically.
The trees' roots make the ground's foundation stable, which in turn quickens the process of removing water saturated in the ground.
Altogether, the project will cost more than $1 million and will be paid for by county funds, grants from Maryland Coastal Bays and a portion of the Chesapeake Bay stimulus grant.
With construction set to begin in the new year, the team hopes to receive some permits by the end of the month and will soon put the project up for bid to contractors.
When construction begins, the Bishopville Pond Restoration project is expected to be complete after three months of work.