Walden Pond is supposed to be a serene setting, but researchers say placid does not mean pristine and human urine is taking a toll on the iconic Massachusetts locale.
The piece of nature was popularized by Henry David Thoreau, but when nature calls these days, researchers say it seems swimmers aren't getting out to go.
The study looked at the pond's sediment and was written by Dr. Jay Stager of Paul Smith's College in the Adirondacks. It found that nutrients in human waste can act as a fertilizer for algae, which can, in turn, block the sun and impact the pond’s ecosystem.
Richard Primack, a professor at Boston University who has been studying the impact of climate change on Walden Pond, is listed as a co-author. Primack says the warmer temperatures will make the urine problem even worse.
"Eventually, the water will get cloudy with algae, and there might be scum on top of the pond," Primack said. "We really need to encourage people to go up and use the bathroom facilities when they need to go. If that doesn't happen, at some point, Walden Pond and the state will have to take action."
The state has been taking action to stabilize the water quality, and researchers say it has not gotten worse, but they hope the study will be an alert to the public so they won't have to look at drastic solutions like closing the pond to swimming.
Building a pool near the pond for small children to swim is another proposed solution, but town officials in Concord said there are no plans for that at this time.