START’s October commendation for exemplary pond enhancement work recognizes the Willow Brook Community in Sarasota, Florida.
Willow Brook was built during 2000 and 2001 with 54 homes housing 91 residents. The community has two stormwater ponds that were beginning to cause some concern with noticeable erosion on the banks and an unsightly algal bloom spreading across the surface of the ponds.
Concerned about the health of their ponds, resident John Hawke and some neighbors got together and contacted Charles Reith, Science Advisor with Southface Sarasota at the Florida House, for a consultation. Charles came by for a pond visit with Sandy Gilbert of START to looks things over. They recommended that the community begin to establish a “No Mow Zone” of taller grass around the perimeter of the pond that is at least 8 to 12 inches high and at least three feet wide to keep heavy lawn mowers off the pond’s bank and to help block fertilizer and grass clippings from entering the pond. In addition, they recommended that the residents look into having a pond specialist examine their littoral shelf in the pond for the viability of establishing some native aquatic plants to buffet wind and waves that cause erosion and help absorb excess nutrients that cause algal blooms.
The community chose Beautiful Ponds as their vendor who “scoured” the soil on the littoral shelf in Pond One to make it less porous and more receptive to support aquatic plants. START then gave the community a grant to help cover the cost of buying the aquatic plants necessary for a successful pond enhancement which included Arrowhead, Duck Potato, Pickerelweed and Joint Spikerush. The plan covered 60% of the perimeter at three plants per linear foot and 80% of the littoral shelf at a minimum of one plant per six square feet.
START helps supports these neighborhood stormwater pond projects because they not only improve the appearance and performance of the neighborhood ponds, but they also help improve water quality downstream. In fact, water experts claim that 65% of the nitrogen in Sarasota Bay that feeds red tide and other harmful algal blooms comes from stormwater. Add the detail that most of our stormwater ponds are estimated to be only operating at 40% to 60% efficiency in removing excess nutrients and you can understand why this program is so important in improving water quality in our waterways.
If you are experiencing problems with your stormwater ponds, contact Sandy Gilbert at email@example.com for a free consultation.