Stop peeing in Walden Pond

Yeah, you. A study of nearly two millennia of microscopic growth at the bottom of the pond helps confirm an earlier report that "more than half of the summer phosphorus budget of the lake may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers."

That's potentially bad news in general and with looming climate change in particular, because the phosphorus from all that micturition promotes the growth of one kind of slimy, floating algae that effectively blocks sunlight from another form of bottom-dwelling algae that helps filters the water, the authors write:

It will therefore be prudent to further reduce the flow of anthropogenic nutrients to Walden Pond under the warmer, wetter conditions that most climate models project for New England during the 21st century. Swimmers are probably the largest source of such nutrients now, and demand for the beach facilities is likely to increase in a warmer future. Swimmer-education programs or construction of a separate swimming pool facility nearby to relieve pressure on the lake might therefore be advisable.

Via Inverse, which chatted with one of the researchers, and Perry Donham.

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I bet

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Thoreau did his own share of the pissing.

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Probably just

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outside his cabin's door.

Or more likely at Emerson's house.

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"Walden Woods"

That's the name that Connecticut-based Walden Forever Wild made up to stop a guy from developing his property almost a mile from The Pond. They got Henley to jump on their bandwagon and were successful in preventing the building.

Ironically, these are the same woods that one H. D. Thoreau managed to burn down with a fire he set to cook some fish he'd caught in the Concord River. Also ironically, at the time Henley was telling people in Concord what they should do, the town dump was directly across the street from The Pond, where the parking lot is now.

One of Walden Forever Wild's explicit goals was to stop people from swimming in Walden. I would not be at all surprised to learn that they were still at it.

Back around 1960, there was a LOT of vegetation in Walden Pond. Real plants -- not just algae. Also frogs, crayfish, etc. Acid rain killed just about all that. The Pond has no outflow; anything that enters the water stays there unless it biodegrades or evaporates.

The Pond actually was closed for at least a year because of swimmer pollution. That was some years before WFW appeared.

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Great Points.

Would as many people give a rat's arse about Walden Pond if it was in Norfolk or Methuen?

A guy who wrote some good books lived there and wrote down his observations. Then Don Henley, he of Don Henley Must Die fame, came along to stop an office building being built near a kettle hole that abuts the town dump, and a highway, and a railroad, that is just like a lot of other ponds around the area. Yet everyone fawns over Walden. What is the difference between this patch of water and Oldham Pond in Pembroke or Spy Pond in Arlington, not much.

If Walden Pond was in non-beautiful people country, would people care as much? Probably not.

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Agreed

Probably not.

I have the impression that Walden is somewhat unusual. It is spring fed, with neither surface infeed nor outlet, and is almost 120 feet deep at the end near the railroad tracks. Spy pond is stream-fed, and is 36 feet at its deepest. Oldham is surface-fed and drained, is only 15 feet deep, and its shores are covered with houses.

Walden has a nice complement of trees and some wildlife, but it's not really quiet, what with Rte 2 not far away.

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Didn't realize you were really a Concordian

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One thing I learned in 18 months reporting out of Concord (from a bureau where I wrote mostly about Acton, thank God, I probably would've killed myself if I had to cover Concord full time) is that Concord hated/hates Thoreau more than they love being a collection of pretentious stuffed-shirt snots who somehow think they're better than people on the other side of the prison rotary. They put the frickin' town dump right across the street from Walden Pond, and when that wasn't enough, they put allowed a trailer park next to the dump across the street from Walden Pond. And it should be noted that Walden Pond is on the wrong side of Rte. 2, not like anywhere a self respecting Milldame would live. You know, the side with the prison and all.

So the reason there are all these people communing with the pond is exactly because of Thoreau (want to really get into an argument? How do you pronounce his name?), not because of some Concord mystique.

I'm sure if he had ambled way over to Spy Pond, hell, even Turtle Pond on the Hyde Park/West Roxbury line and set up his cabin there and written his book, people today would be going there and Walden Pond would only be some pond you'd get a glimpse of on your way to the DeCordova.

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Concord loves Thoreau

about as much as Lowell loves Kerouac.

The nesting makes me unsure whether you're saying that I'm a Concordian, or that Roman is. I'm not, but I did drive taxi there for a while, and had another job in West Concord.

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Communing with the pond

So the reason there are all these people communing with the pond is exactly because of Thoreau ...

You're right about the communers, but most of the swimmers, fishermen, etc. couldn't care less about Thoreau. Walden is a pleasant place, an easy drive from the city and surrounding built-up areas, and still has a few little spots where you can be alone and not be bothered (at least it did last time I was there). The Thoreau legacy has kept it from being turned into a place for the wealthy to build their big houses, which is why it's pleasant. The dump and trailer park are gone, and parking is restricted, so there are fewer people and seagulls than in the past, but it's still a place where ordinary people can have a nice day, even if they have no idea who Thoreau was.

I believe it's supposed to be pronounced "Thorough," with the accent on the first syllable, but you'll have about as much luck pushing that as getting people to say "Funnel Hall".

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Another Reason

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There are a lot of really enjoyable cycling roads between there and Cambridge/Boston/Innerburbs for those of a triathalon bent. So people bike there, they swim, etc.

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Rte 2 going to Lincoln is a bit different than near the prison.

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Not that I support snobby people, but I think you're a little off base there. And it's unfortunate that they put the dump across the street, but what should we do? Find some virgin forest somewhere else and turn that into a dump?

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What should we do?

I don't have a comprehensive answer, but I know what they did do: Promote recycling and truck the rest to an incinerator in some place like North Andover. Lowell rejected a proposed incinerator, and you know none of the towns near Concord would accept one.

I think Adam was using Rte 2 as a boundary between the upscale Concord and the rest, which is pretty accurate, especially since places like the Willow Pond Kitchen and The Fairway are gone. Walden and West Concord (the prison) are on the wrong side of the highway.

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Yes, promote recycling. Thanks.

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We all know and support that. Again, Rte 126 to Lincoln is different than (horrors) West Concord. How many mega-mansions on 30 acre parcels do you need to drive past before it becomes obvious?

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Why are you changing the subject?

First, you make some complaint about Adam using Rte 2 as a demarcation, now you're saying Rte 126 is different from West Concord. Well, duh, but what's your point?

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Do you know the area at all?

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Rte 126 is the road that goes past Walden Pond from Rte 2. The actual topic of discussion. The town line to Lincoln is actually right after Walden, and then some of the most expensive real estate in the state. I'm confused as why someone would claim Concordians look down on the area and compare it to the area around the prison. Also don't see the point about kvetching about the trailer park, when it was removed over 20 year ago.

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Yeah, but ...

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The good townsfolk of Concord, at some point, DID vote to put the town dump across the street from Walden Pond. And at some point, the town of Concord DID allow development of a trailer park next to the dump and across the street from Walden Pond.

Maybe today, in 2018, Concordians no longer hate Thoreau, but the town has a long history of disgust for the man, as evidenced by the above. Not sure why you're trying to pretend that never happened.

As for the whole 126/prison thing, the fact is that Walden Pond (and the dump and the trailer park) are on the "wrong" side of Rte. 2. Again, maybe in 2018, feelings have cooled, but for a long time that was the unspoken of border between "good" Concord and, well, the rest of town. A 99 restaurant would never be allowed in the Milldam, but in West Concord? By all means! The other side of Rte. 2 was where all the icky stuff went, such as, oh, the prison and the town dump (traditionally, towns would put their dumps right on the town line, but I guess there wasn't enough room along the Assabet near where Concord, Acton and, ick, Maynard come together, so Walden Pond had to suffice).

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Yes, I do

You appear to have missed the comment where I said I drove taxi in Concord, and had a job in West Concord. I know all the streets, and I know what the people of Concord have chosen to do WRT zoning and facilities. The "most expensive real estate" is over the town line in Lincoln, not between that and Rte 2. I really don't understand what you're getting bent out of shape about.

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I'm not actually, I was questioning Adams take on the issue.

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The thing I care about is below regarding the efforts to keep the public out of a State Park. (We are going to replace this wonderful public space with a few plants and lots of fences. If you complain then you must hate nature because the plants are natural.)

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OK, then

Let's talk about that. I was annoyed when they put those fences up, too. They were there to funnel people into a few little spots that had been lined with big rocks, to stop us from going down the banks to the water wherever we wanted. Crowd control. They severely limited the available basking space. Not really 'natural,' either.

About that same time, they set up a card table on the sidewalk and tried to collect a fee from people walking along Rte 126. I just laughed at them and kept walking.

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Well they did rip out all the rail road ties in Thoreau's Cove

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Effectively ending the best swimming in the area. (and ahem, a quick drive from Cambridge). They put up those awful fences everywhere to keep people out of the water, and told everyone it was for shoreline restoration. (You can't swim anymore because they planted a couple of ferns.} There have always been people who can't balance it's historic and literary significance with its practical everyday use by actual people. I have spent large chunks of time there over the decades and you always get people who show up and say "This isn't what I imagined, everyone here needs to leave except me."

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construction of a separate

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construction of a separate swimming pool facility nearby to relieve pressure on the lake might therefore be advisable.

It took them to the last sentence to get to their point. They want the beach shut down. That's what they went in wanting, and that's what they delivered. Not hard to figure out.

Follow the logic: if we keep allowing swimming, eventually water quality will be so bad that the pond will have to be closed to swimming. Therefore, we should close the beach to swimming now. And global warming.

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What?

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That's some conspiracy level shit close to Trump there, buddy.

The algae is changing in the pond. The reason is the phosphorous level. The reason for that is too many people peeing in the pond and nothing in the environment can compensate for that. The need is to stop people from peeing in the pond, but that's utterly impossible to control...so, yeah, we need to stop people from getting in the water until the environment can rebalance.

What part of that train of logic required them to have a pre-requisite that people not swim in the pond? Nothing. So, supposing it to be true violates Occam's Razor or requires you to suppose that they also made up something along the way to justify their precept.

You "figured it out" alright...

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DPH orders beach closings

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The water is tested regularly during the swimming season.

If people can't behave, the bugs get out of control and they have to shut the beach.

If you want conspiracy theories, please head over to Shannon Beach, a popular beach which the DCR has been defunding and shrinking while having the Jackboot Squad harass people swimming in other areas.

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I mean

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A "WELCOME TO HISTORIC WALDEN OND" sign wouldn't be amiss, right?

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Old

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I think it's time to get my prescription adjusted for my glasses because I read..

A study of nearly two millennia

And I was like "why are Millennia peeing in walden pond"

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What?

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The millenia are eating tide pods in Walden Pond?

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It IS what you learn as a kid that makes the difference

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I grew up on a lake and spent thousands of hours in the water there. I NEVER peed in the lake. My parents instilled the idea that the lake water was very clean and a person should never do anything to pollute it. It would have never even occurred to me, if I had to go, not to just get out and find a toilet (or at least a tree.)

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The pond is THE de facto tri

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The pond is THE de facto tri-athlete training ground. There are plenty of days/times they are out there when the facilities are closed (either for the season or not open yet - I think they lock the bathrooms at night). Also, lots of kids. So...

Trout fishing is really good though.

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My God!

Where will the Crossfit crowd now take the one picture on their Instagram account that they caption as both getting back to nature and training for the triathlon they end up not doing because....I don't know...Flour opened a new location or the new season of The Queen is on?

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"No tree

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is so wedded to the water, and harmonizes so well with still streams, full of piss."

Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 2018

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"I peed in the pond

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because I wished to pee deliberately"

- also Henry David Thoreau, 2018

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The Thaw

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I saw the civil sun drying earth’s tears —
Her tears of joy that only faster flowed,

Fain would I stretch me by the highway side,
To thaw and trickle with the melting snow,
That mingled soul and body with the tide,
I too may through the pores of nature flow.

But I alas nor tinkle can nor fume,
One jot to forward the great work of Time,
‘Tis mine to hearken while these ply the loom,
So shall my silence with their music chime.

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another source

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Does the Walden parking lot still have pavement that leaks?

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Ugh!

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Some of my best, fresh water, deep swims have been in and across Walden Pond. Years ago, I used to go to Houghton’s Pond, which is closer and doesn't require a highway drive, but swimming is now severely restricted there to a small shoreline space, safe for kids. Wonder what the phosphorous counts are there?

Guess I’ll have to check out Turtle Pond again. Haven’t been there since I was a kid when it was considered a dangerous, illicit place to go, let alone swim.

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The gov't hates public swimming

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It has always driven me crazy that we have Jamaica Pond right there in the middle of the city and yet swimming there is banned. Give me one good reason why people shouldn't be able to swim there? (And don't say "parking" or I'll scream.)

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When I was a kid...

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When I was a small child, I was told that is was not safe to swim in the Jamaica Pond because it was "bottomless," and people "could drown."

As I got older, that explanation expanded to reveal that there were lots of weeds choking the areas just under the surface of the water that a swimmer could get tangled in...and drown.

Just now, I found this article http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2014/07/18/jp-history-how-swimming-in-jam... reporting that two people drowned there in 1975 (when I was a small child...) and that the swimming ban that was half-hearted before, actually started being enforced at that time.

Then this article http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/08/12/jamaica-plain-pond-reopens-af... mentions that Jamaica Pond is apparently one of the backup water supplies for Boston. Not that I'd want to drink any water from it considering it's prone to toxic algae blooms...

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If they want to reduce crowd

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If they want to reduce crowd pressure on Walden, they should advocate legal swimming for the public (not just town residents) in the dozens of other ponds east of Worcester.

Right now, there are very few options besides Walden. There's also Shannon Beach (which is small so it gets very crowded), and Breakheart in Stoneham (which is out of the way for a lot of people). Besides that, there's no public freshwater swimming until you get out to Leominster or so.

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Largely, but not enirely true

Besides that, there's no public freshwater swimming until you get out to Leominster or so.

Lexington allows non-residents to swim in its Old Reservoir, after paying a fee. It's a sandy beach on a small pond next to Rte 2A. Kind of a micro-Walden, with much less ambience.

Chelmsford has a beach on its Freeman Lake (Newfield Pond on your USGS topo map). They tried to prohibit non-residents, but since they'd used state money to create the beach and bathhouse, a lawsuit forced them to let everyone in.

There are probably swimming holes in a lot of towns east of Worcester. Those are just two I happen to know of.

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