The water here still smelled OK, because the debris was simply dirty sand, pine needles, and other forest debris. But this kind of debris contains a lot of nutrients. Bacteria in the pond will break it down into real fertilizer, which eventually will stimulate an algae bloom. When this happens, the pond becomes unbalanced, and will be much less appealing for swimmers and fishermen. Ponds which contain too many nutrients do eventually start to stink.
To see the future of Hawksnest if we don't control the erosion and nutrients, just look at neighboring Black Pond. Yesterday, Irwin Schorr told me there used to be a turkey farm next to Black Pond, on the west near Walker Rd. Turkey waste is great fertilizer--probably the biggest reason that Black Pond is a mess today. How many times have you taken a dip in Black Pond?
By Sunday, a day and a half after the rain ended, the pond off Walker landing was still black on the bottom with debris. But on the Round Cove side, the thin layer of fine black sediment had dispersed.
At the landing east of Round Cove parking, at the end of a long path, there was no runoff from the storm at all. There is no erosion in this area, and the intact vegetation completely protected the pond. There was no debris in the pond at all, and the sand on the bottom was almost pure white (below).
Hawksnest Pond, if it remains protected, is of great value as a natural laboratory. It can show the rest of the country how best to manage lakes and ponds. After the storm, the contrasts in water quality between the protected shores and the eroding shores at Hawksnest were stark.
The lessons are clear: The pond--and it's protective ring of plants--is very fragile. Protect the shore vegetation and prevent erosion, and your grandchildren can enjoy the pond you love, just as you do today.
But neglect shore protection--and you'll have two Black Ponds to swim in.
Yes, erosion is "natural," in the sense that water responds to gravity, and flows downhill. But erosion around Cape Cod ponds almost never occurred before settlement, and it isn't desirable. Hurricanes and tornadoes are "natural" too.
The ponds on Cape Cod are called coastal plain ponds. They are a rare and endangered resource. They are an environment protected from extremes of wind and waves (and the erosion they cause).
In contrast, the ocean coasts normally experience much erosion--but the vast ocean is capable of dealing with the debris and nutrients that wash in.
So if you want to have campfires or do wheelies in the parking lots at Hawksnest, take your fun to the ocean beach, which isn't so fragile.