Neighbors helping fish

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 06:11 PM

When the fish in their neighborhood pond started dying off, the residents of Sanford’s Carbonton Heights neighborhood decided to take matters into their own hands.

Led by Roger Unger, who lives in one of the houses closest to the pond, the neighbors raised more than $2,500 to put in chemicals and a fountain that will eliminate the oxygen-stealing, sticky green algae that invaded the pond and killed some of the biggest fish. And now the neighborhood, which is located between Carbonton Road and Spring Lane, just east of where Cool Springs Road intersects both streets, has nearly won its year-long battle with the algae.

“(It started) about four years back,” Unger said. “And eventually I started seeing [dead fish] floating on the surface, and I decided someone needed to do something about it.”

A fountain is in place now, but it’s less powerful than what they had expected — the water shoots four feet high and six feet wide, not 12 feet and 28 feet wide — so another one is on its way next week. With the aeration its bubbles cause and the anti-algae chemical bath that doesn’t harm fish or people, Unger said the pond and its wildlife should be back to normal soon.

“In about a week, week-and-a-half, we’ll finally get this thing done and cleaned up,” Unger said. “And most of the neighbors have been pretty excited about getting this thing cleaned up.”

He added that in addition to the monetary help, several people contributed by lending their boat, brawn or electrical skills to get the fountain up and running. And it all happened without a homeowners association in place to organize efforts or compel people to contribute.

“All said and done, [it cost] probably about $2,600 — and everybody chipped in,” Unger said. “They were real nice about it. ... They really wanted something done, and for me doing this, they’ve been very complimentary.”

Leslie Cottrell lives nearby and said she was sad when the fish started dying off due to the invasive algae brought in by visiting ducks, but the community reaction was great to see.

“It’s beautiful, and you can tell already things are moving,” she said. “... We’re kind of at the top of a couple of ponds that drain into the Deep River, so it’s like we’re helping the whole system, too.”

Cottrell said she and her children and dogs visit the pond frequently. They watched day after day as the algae moved in, slowly suffocating some of the bigger fish — like a three-foot-long carp — as it hogged all the oxygen in the lake. But now?

“Every time I go and see it, I’m like, ‘Yay, they must be so happy and getting so much oxygen,’” Cottrell said.

Another group that’s pleased, Unger said, is local fishermen. There’s crappies, bass and more in the lake — he said he doesn’t fish himself, so he couldn’t name all the different kinds — and that the pond gets stocked from time to time.

One young man carrying a variety of fishing equipment came by on Friday afternoon. He said he fishes every day but walks past this pond to another one down the road because the fish are smaller and he doesn’t like the algae.

But soon that algae should be gone, and the fish will hopefully thrive again. Unger said he made it all happen for a simple reason: “Because nobody was doing anything. I moved here because it’s a nice neighborhood and all of the people are pretty nice. And I liked the pond.”