Ponds & Lakes


Cape Cod is a land of water, with over 1,000 ponds and lakes covering nearly 11,000 acres. Most of these are depressions in the land's surface, created after the glaciers that formed Cape Cod 12,000 years ago retreated to the north. These highly valued freshwater resources require monitoring, management, and protection to keep them clean and healthy for generations to come. For more than two decades, the Cape Cod Commission water resources staff has coordinated and contributed to a wide variety of freshwater protection and water quality restoration activities. 

Ponds Projects Viewer

Pond and Lake Stewardship (PALS)

Pond volunteerRecognizing the vital importance of ponds and lakes to the region, the Commission developed the Cape Cod Pond and Lake Stewardship (PALS) program in 2000 to coordinate pond-related activities among citizen groups and a variety of organizations, including the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, the Community Foundation of Cape Cod, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the National Park Service-Cape Cod National Seashore, and the School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Pond volunteerMajor accomplishments of the PALS includes:

  • Establishment of a volunteer network (2000)
  • Participation in the National Secchi Dip-In (2001-2009)
  • Collection of annual water quality snapshots (2001-present)
  • Presentation of "Ponds in Peril" Workshops (with APCC)
  • Reviews of local pond water quality
  • Prioritization of Pond Properties for Protection
  • Compilation of the Cape Cod Pond Atlas (2003)


Pond Water Quality Reports


Harwich pond



With funding from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Community Foundation of Cape Cod, laboratory services provided without charge by the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and the grassroots enthusiasm of the Pond & Lake Stewardship Project volunteers, the staff of the Cape Cod Commission produced the Cape Cod Pond and Lake Atlas in 2003. The Executive Summary is available.

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