There are 91 ponds in two locations on Cornell-owned land north of the Tompkins County Airport. The first 22 ponds were built in 1958 and 1959 at the Warren Road Site (Site 1) by the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the US Dept. of Agriculture. These ponds were initially designed to monitor the growth of aquatic plants under different conditions (the findings to be applied on the Erie Canal), marsh ecology and chemistry, and duck food studies. All of the construction except for the original twenty-two Marsh Ecology Ponds were supported by funds from the Cooperative Regional Projects supported by allotments of the regional research Fund, Hatch Act (CRF-1). Nineteen more ponds were built at this site and 50 at the Neimi Site (Site 2) in 1964 using a federal grant.
The ponds are inverted truncated pyramids with a 20m x 20m bottom. The 50 at Neimi are 2.4 m deep and hold 1,000 cubic meters of water when full. At Warren 22 are shallow ponds with emergent plants.