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Location: Off Wareham Road and Bourne Road, Plymouth MA
AD Makepeace White Island Pond Bogs

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  • Owner:  A.D. Makepeace Cranberry Co.

  • Volume of Earth Removed: Unknown. 

  • Claimed reason: Reconfigure 42 acres of A.D. Makepeace Cranberry Co. White Island Pond Bogs,  build pond

  • Permit: None

  • Area Impacted: 40-50 acres estimated

  • Water impacts: dredged into the Sole Source Aquifer to create a pond and reconfigure bogs  Mining and cranberry bog construction in the Aquifer shown on drone footage taken in 2022. An image is below:

EJ Pontiff - ADM Agawam - 02/20/2022

For decades, Makepeace was polluting White Island Pond with agricultural chemicals. Instead of taking enforcement action against Makepeace, on May 7, 2009 the state agencies and the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association and the UMass Cranberry Station entered into a memorandum of understanding that was supposed to end the pollution from the Makepeace Bogs. The MOU also applied to  bogs that were then owned by Federal Furnace Cranberry also adjacent to White Island Pond. These bogs were sold to E.J. Pontiff Cranberries, Inc. Under the federal Clean Water Act, Massachusetts has to have a plan to bring all polluted water into compliance with the law and end pollution. This is called a “Total Daily Maximum Load” plan. The TMDL plan for White Island Pond is here

 

During the public comments on the TMDL, the public asked why MassDEP did not take enforcement action against Makepeace and Federal Furnace Cranberry. Instead, it entered into the MOU. Federal funds were awarded to the agencies to implement and monitor whether Makepeace and Federal Furnace changed their practices and stopped polluting White Island Pond.

 

After the MOU, the mining started. Makepeace removed forests, dredged in the aquifer, and changed the topography. Makepeace’s “tailwater pond” is unlined. Pontiff’s pond is unlined. At both locations, the cranberry growers used the construction of “tailwater recovery ponds” as a cover for sand and gravel mining. Makepeace reconfigured the White Island Pond Bogs and dredged about 20 acres of bogs to create a pond. It mined sand and gravel from around the bogs, over about 40 acres to reconfigure them into squares and rectangles. At the Pontiff bogs, the company mined about 1 million cubic yards of sand and gravel, leveling a hill to make a tailwater pond. The Pontiff operation is here: 140 Firehouse Road Site, Plymouth MA.

 

Makepeace’s Red Brook Development is north of the White Island Bogs. This has stripped forests and mined sand and gravel. These are land use changes that also impact water quality. Pontiff has also converted land next to the bogs to residential developments. See the drone video here.

 

CLWC made inquiries to the UMass Cranberry Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service to try to obtain information about the current condition of White Island Pond and what impact the mining has had on it, and whether the water quality improvements promised by the MOU have happened.. Neither agency produced information and both admitted none existed.

 

There is no public record to show that Makepeace and Pontiff are in compliance with the MOU.  Taxpayer money was spent on “studies” of the issue but MassDEP and Mass. The Department of Agriculture has shown no actual results that the tailwater ponds (excuses for mining) are improving water quality in the pond. The studies were in 2019 and 2015.

 

In the response to public comments in the TMDL, MassDEP stated,

“Response to Comments
Phosphorus TMDL for White Island Pond

 

Comments received verbally at the public meeting:

 

Comment 1: Not much has changed with regard to addressing water quality problems at White Island Pond since 1982. Why did DEP choose to engage in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association and the UMass Cranberry Experiment Station regarding the development of best management practices for nutrient application, water use and return flows rather than taking enforcement action? If the conditions of the MOA are not met by the cranberry growers, under the law, what authority does the MassDEP have to ensure the agreement is met?

Response: MassDEP believes that the MOA specifies the appropriate measures that need to be taken in order to achieve the water quality improvements and that this cooperative approach is the most expeditious method for getting the remedial measures in place to address water quality problems at White Island Pond. The federal and state Clean Water Act (CWA) statutes and related regulations grant certain exemptions from wastewater discharge permitting requirements for agricultural related discharges; this relief extends to the cranberry industry. If the MOA is not complied with, MassDEP can opt out of the MOA and will not have given up any rights to enforce MassDEP water quality regulations.

It should be noted that the growers [Makepeace and E.J. Pontiff Cranberry] have already begun to implement the practices outlined in the MOA.” 

  • Archeological: The site is adjacent to the Deer Pond archaeological site. A letter from Massachusetts Historical Commission dated October 11, 2005 states that there are two find-sites in the  Deer Pond area but they are “not of significant research value” and requested further investigations if certain areas are going to be developed. A letter from MHC dated April 19, 2007 to Judy Kohn (ADM) made a finding of NFI for Deer Pond and it does not meet eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. The status of the site is unknown. 

  • Wetlands: yes, as shown by drone footage

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