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Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, South Yarmouth, Massachusetts


Owen Graf


Students from the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School


Students from the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School began a study this year of Town Brook in West Yarmouth, MA. This year’s activity was the start of what is intended to be a multi-year study of the brook and its associated ponds. The focus of the study was to examine the physical and biological characteristics of the brook as a means of helping to determine the fitness of the brook for the re-introduction of herring to the system.

Town Brook lies within a town conservation area and is supplied water from Little Sandy Pond. The pond is a kettle pond with the ground aquifer being the sole source of its water. The area is found within a water resource area for the town well fields. Two pump houses for town water are located in the vicinity, and a large water tower is on the east shore of the pond. Town recreation fields are located on the south side of the pond. The brook passes through an Atlantic white cedar swamp and a sphagnum moss bog on its way to Mill Pond and then to Nantucket Sound. The brook contains only fresh water.

Access to the study area was delayed in the fall because of the hunting season and the fact that this area is used for hunting during that time. Access was then further delayed because of the harsh winter. Three study sites were located on the brook. Site A was about 12 meters from the pond, site B was approximately 200 meters from the pond, and site C was about 300 meters from the pond. Water samples were taken from these sites between March 26 and 27, 2004. Fecal coliform tests were conducted late in April. Site B is located just before the brook enters the concentrated area of sphagnum moss, and site C is located within a heavy growth of cedar trees and sphagnum moss.

Approximately three hours after the collecting equipment was activated, site A was tampered with by individuals who prevented the collection of more than three water samples from that site. The brook was also dammed up near site A which inhibited, but did not stop, the water flow through this area. This may have affected the data obtained at sites B and C.

From the limited data obtained from this study, few conclusions can be made. It does appear that as the water flows along the brook the nitrate concentration decreases. This drop in concentration accompanies a drop in nitrate load in the down-stream sites. Phosphorus readings were low at all three sites with related phosphorus loads also being reduced as the water enters the cedar swamp. The entire brook indicated acidic conditions which are in keeping with the presence of acid tolerant cedar and sphagnum. All three sites tested negative for the presence of fecal coliform bacteria. Dissolved oxygen levels appeared to fluctuate possibly in relationship to the activity of other forms of bacteria and the presence or absence of daylight.

This study is intended to be continued and expanded in the future. It is hoped that continued cooperation with the Town of Yarmouth conservation administrator and the Cape Cod Commission can provide a more in-depth study of the brook.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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