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Park officials look into solutions to prevent future fish kills at Lily Pond

mill creek park

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By Josh Stipanovich


Mill Creek MetroParks officials are looking into ways to prevent future fish kills at the Lily Pond, two days after hundreds died due to a lack of oxygen in the water.

Linda Kostka, development and marketing director, said ideas to address the problem will be discussed.

“I don’t know that it’s avoidable,” Kostka said, noting the extreme heat and other natural causes that led to the dead fish. “We’re going to be looking into some options.”

One idea is to have the pond aerated. A second idea would be to install pumps to circulate the water when needed, and a third option — highly unlikely, Kostka said — would be to dredge it.

“There’s no plan to” dredge the pond, she said.

She added that dredging would be too costly and would run a risk of disturbing the natural elements that have formed at the pond’s surface over the years, which ultimately could affect the wildlife.

There’s a natural spring on the west side of the pond that feeds into it to help circulate water, Kostka added.

Costs of each idea are not known at this time, Kostka said. She added that nothing would be determined until the appropriate people can examine the pond, which should be done soon.

This isn’t the first time fish have died in the Lily Pond.

According to Vindicator files, in June 1966, many goldfish died rapidly from a lack of oxygen after the pond was sprayed to kill weeds. The park added compressed air and fresh water to the lake, which seemed to solve the problem.

Jamey Emmert, Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife spokesperson, said the most recent event was a natural occurrence. Emmert said the park also could install a fountain to alleviate any issues of low oxygen in the water.

“You don’t want to mess with nature too much,” Emmert said. “[But] it’s definitely a reasonable option. Species like moving water.”

Once park officials decide on what to do, restocking the pond with fish is also an option the park has yet to determine.

Kostka said the park would purchase the fish from local hatcheries but was unsure of the cost.

“It’s just too soon to tell right now,” Kostka said.

Emmert said ODNR doesn’t restock private ponds, but since it and Mill Creek Park work together, it’s “definitely a possibility” it could help the park with that.

David Peel, owner and manager of Five F Fish Farm in Leetonia, said restocking the fish could be costly. He said, for example, koi big enough for the Lily Pond would cost $20 per fish. He added that these would have to be at least 14 inches long so herons wouldn’t swoop in and eat them. Depending on the size, catfish go from 60 to 75 cents a fish; bass would cost 50 cents to $10 a fish; and bluegill run from $1 to $2 a fish.

Peel said chances are, the park wouldn’t need to restock the pond and recommended that officials there let nature take its course.

“The babies generally live,” Peel said. “The smartest thing for them to do would be nothing.”