Many students at Springs School found themselves curious about the restoration project at Pussy’s Pond, so we took them down to see for themselves how this project ties into our Clean Water Initiative and a bigger picture of the community working together to protect local watersheds.

Pussy’s Pond is undergoing a massive restoration project, thanks to the hard-working hands of Michele Carlson and the Town of East Hampton Natural Resources Department.

We were put in contact with Lisa Seff, an enthusiastic environmental teacher at Springs School who gave us the opportunity to meet with students. Throughout the course of the day on November 9th, we brought over 90 students from Springs School across the street to Pussy’s Pond to learn about how this project relates to our Blue Water Task Force and Ocean Friendly Gardens Programs.


Lisa and Colleen explaining the project to a group of students

Surfrider Foundation’s Eastern Long Island Chapter has been sampling Pussy’s Pond’s water quality for two years. Historically, our results have indicated consistently high levels of enterococcus bacteria, a coliform bacteria that lives in the gut of warm blooded animals. In short, enterococcus indicates if feces are present. Not only is the pond highly impacted by urban runoff, it is also known for being a family-friendly spot to feed the ducks.

These remediation efforts seek to restore the native habitat and water quality of Pussy’s Pond. On the Southern end of the pond, directly across the street from the school, Michele Carlson is working tirelessly to restore native habitat. She has beautifully transformed the landscape to include plantings a variety of native plants, and bioswales, a landscape element that re-routes urban runoff so it can be absorbed and filtered rather than flowing directly into the pond. Flags in the ground mark new plants, and strings have been hung to prevent birds from eating the seeds.

On the southern side of the pond, the Town of East Hampton Department of Natural Resources is removing invasive phragmites from the edges of the Pond so native plants will be able to propagate. They then placed mulch chips into the pond as a permeable reactive barrier which will filter nitrogen out of the groundwater that flows into the pond.
Habitat restoration on one end, removal of invasive plants on the other end.

Habitat restoration, bioswales, and removal of invasive species to restore the Pussy’s Pond ecosystem

Mulch for the permeable reactive barrier to remove nitrogen from groundwater.

Mulch to be placed in the permeable reactive barrier to reduce nitrogen pollution

When speaking to the students of Springs School about Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force and Ocean Friendly Gardens program, we had plenty to point to. There are countless positive aspects about this restoration project, and the kids were extremely curious to learn as much as they could and better, how they could help.

But, the education doesn’t end there. As part of Lisa Seff’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Curriculum, students will continue to learn about water quality, the importance of indigenous species, and a viable habitat for species. Because students will continue to collect water quality samples at local watersheds, Blue Water Task Force volunteers have agreed to monitor the sites to ensure that the water is not highly contaminated.

Moving forward, under the guidance of Mrs. Seff, Springs School Students will continue to collect water quality samples at local watersheds, learn about factors that affect water quality, and work towards solutions. Read more about the project in a recent article in the East Hampton Star, “New Life Blossoms at Pussy’s Pond” and stay informed about the water quality of Pussy’s Pond. Follow the links below to learn more about our Blue Water Task Force and our Ocean Friendly Gardens programs.

This is the perfect example of a community coming together to restore native habitat and protect clean water. And we are more than happy to be a part of it.