LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch Operations is investigating the cause of a "fish kill" over the long holiday weekend reported by a resident of the Summerfield/Riverwalk community.
An unidentified man, who lives on Primrose Circle, made an anonymous call to Lakewood Ranch Operations informing them a stormwater pond behind his home was filled with dead, decomposing fish. He noticed that maintenance workers had installed a new system in the pond and the fish had died immediately after it was installed.
Operations Director Ryan Heise said on Monday the sudden occurrence of dead fish in a lake or pond, although a cause for alarm and concern, is not uncommon. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office confirmed that no one had called with any reason to suspect that someone had deliberately tampered with the water in order to purposely destroy the fish. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, too little oxygen in the water is the primary cause of fish kills in Florida. When pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are applied on land prior to heavy rains, chemicals washed into the water may also kill the fish, according to the commission.
Heise says whatever the situation is, they're investigating it.
"When we receive calls related
to fish kills, we inspect, and if warranted, we clean the ponds. Our lake maintenance contractor will pull water samples from the pond in order to determine the cause. Aeration is a strategy that prevents severe oxygen depletion," Heise said.
A solar aeration system was installed in the pond last week because it had a chronic history of algae blooms that deplete oxygen when the algae decomposes.
Solar aeration is one of a number of sustainable methods used to maintain ponds in Lakewood Ranch and prevent the rapid reproduction and spread of algae, which is usually a visible film of green on the water's surface.
Solar aeration is powered by solar energy which helps save electricity and is also cleaner for the environment. Heise says the pond in question is closest to the Braden River watershed and receives the most storm runoff from neighboring ponds, so its algae level is higher than the others,
When it was first reported, the word fountain was used. But June Stroup, chairwoman of Community Development District 1, that oversees the Summerfield/Riverwalk area says that fountains are never placed in the ponds for conservation reasons.
"We don't put fountains in our ponds because they're a waste of water. Bubblers, which is probably what he was referring to, keep the water circulating, is good for the fish."
If residents want to do their part in helping keep Lakewood Ranch ponds healthy, Heise encourage them to visit the "Protect our Ponds" page at lakewoodranchgov.org.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.