TIVERTON — High horsepower boats on Stafford Pond have an impact on the turbidity of water in Stafford Pond, and potentially impact phosphorus concentrations in its waters.
So said a study about Stafford Pond water quality recently released by the Stone Bridge Fire District.
The study is not conclusive, its author says, but “data are consistent” with that conclusion.
“The risk appears very real and should be properly assessed if the drinking water supply is to be protected,” the report said. “[L]arge horsepower boats represent a risk of increased phosphorus in the upper waters of Stafford Pond.”
The impact study was commissioned at a cost of $5,000 by the District, which manages the pond’s water supply and provides drinking water to an estimated 1,100 households in Tiverton.
It was based on a study performed last summer during and after three fishing tournaments on the pond that involved fishing boats with high horsepower.
The concern giving rise to the study was the number (an estimated 16) of tournaments on the pond last summer that involved fishing boats powered by high horsepower engines.
The study was conducted by Dr. Ken Wagner, a water resources manager at Water Resource Services in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
The Report, “Assessing Boating Impact on Stafford Pond, Tiverton, RI,” was published in October 2013 and was only made public last month.
The report qualified its conclusions. “Further assessment would appear needed,” it said, about the possibility that boat activity on the surface of the pond disturbs sediment on the bottom of the pond, and that recovery from a disturbance on a pond takes longer than on a river.
Just three tournaments were studied, one each in the middle of June, July, and September. The study says the tournaments observed “had a range of 4-7 participating boats.”
The only powerboats observed on the pond during the study were tournament boats with large motors.
“If there is strong interest in keeping higher horsepower boats on Stafford Pond,” said the report, “additional study is warranted.”
Horsepower limits on the pond are normally set at 10 hp, but during tournaments, the horsepower of engines used on the fishing boats has been as high as 250 hp.
The 487 acre pond has a maximum depth of 28 feet, and an average depth of 13 feet, and is rocky near shore but grades into muck at greater depths.