Brewster Ponds: Addressing Groundwater Pollution and Septic System Challenges

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Welcome to the Brewster Ponds Coalition Pond Summit 2022! We are delighted to have so many residents, town employees, and special guests joining us today. I am Susan Bridges, the current president of the Brewster Ponds Coalition, and I would like to introduce the other board members present at the summit. Today, we have Marsha Kelb, Nancy Ortiz, Conrad Schultz, Rob Condon, John Keith, our vice president, and Mary Matterstock.

History of the Pond Summit

In the past, the Pond Summit focused on remediation projects led by neighborhood groups. We discussed initiatives such as wheat harvesting at Elbow Pond and a stormwater remediation basin at Seymour Pond. These projects aimed to energize Pond neighborhood groups and encourage them to plan similar remediation projects. While we are still interested in these projects, this year’s Pond Summit is different for three reasons. First, we will address a problem that currently lacks a solution. Second, we are co-hosting the event with the town of Brewster, which we are extremely grateful for. Lastly, we aim to inspire the entire town, not just Pond groups.


The Pond Summit agenda includes a variety of speakers and topics. John Keith will discuss Pond groundwater issues, followed by Mark Nelson who will talk about integrated Water Resource Management planning. Brian Dudley will share insights on sewering, and Brian Baumgartel will focus on alternative septic systems. We will also have Tom Button as our moderator, who will lead a question and answer session after all the speakers have finished. Finally, Nate will discuss the importance of financing for these projects.

Understanding the Pond and Groundwater Pollution

Brewster is known for having a significant number of ponds, with a total of 83 ponds ranging in size from large bodies of water to small ones. These ponds are essential natural resources and offer a wide range of recreational activities. They also have economic value, as Pondfront and Pond View Homes are highly sought after. However, these ponds are closely linked to groundwater, and any pollution in the groundwater can affect the health and quality of the ponds.

Impact of Septic Systems on Groundwater and Ponds

Septic systems play a significant role in Brewster’s wastewater management. However, they can also contribute to groundwater and pond pollution if not properly maintained. Understanding how septic systems work and their impact on the environment is crucial in addressing water quality issues. Septic systems function by allowing wastewater to flow into a septic tank, where solid waste settles at the bottom and is gradually broken down by bacterial action. The liquid portion (effluent) is then released into a drain field, where it percolates through the soil and is further treated and filtered.

Broad Overview of Pond Impairment Status in Brewster

While Brewster’s ponds are considered valuable assets, many are currently impaired due to various pollution sources. The main culprits include excess nutrients, bacteria, and other contaminants. These pollutants primarily come from septic systems, stormwater runoff, and other human activities. The impairment status of Brewster ponds is an issue that needs immediate attention and effective solutions.


The Brewster Ponds Coalition Pond Summit 2022 addresses the pressing water quality issues affecting Brewster’s ponds and groundwater. This event brings together residents, town employees, and other stakeholders to discuss and devise strategies for protecting and improving water quality. With a diverse range of speakers and topics, we hope to inspire the entire town to take action in preserving this invaluable resource. By addressing the challenges posed by septic systems and other pollution sources, we can ensure a healthier environment for current and future generations in Brewster.

This article provides a detailed overview of the Brewster Ponds Coalition Pond Summit 2022, highlighting the importance of addressing groundwater pollution and septic system challenges in Brewster, Massachusetts. With a comprehensive agenda and a focus on inspiring the entire town, the summit brings together residents, town employees, and other stakeholders to discuss solutions for protecting and improving water quality in Brewster’s ponds. By understanding the impact of septic systems and other pollution sources, the town can work towards a healthier and more sustainable environment.

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