You asked: What's wrong with Noonan Park pond?
Editor's note: The following is part of an Echo Press feature, "You Asked." Readers are invited to send the newspaper a simple question and we'll try to get to the bottom of it.
You Asked: What's wrong with the pond at Noonan Park in Alexandria? It looks horrible this year.
The pond is a green and brown mess, covered with a thick scum of algae.
The problem was noticeable shortly after the ice went out and it's grabbed the attention of many park-goers, who are wondering what happened.
"We've never seen it this bad before," said Bill Thoennes, Alexandria park director. "There's never been anything that has taken over the whole pond. Baby ducks can't even swim through it - they walk right over the top."
The good news: This past weekend's rain seems to have improved the pond. "It's way better now than last week," Thoennes said Monday.
The better news: A plan is in the works to make the pond clearer.
The city is paying about $600 to have the pond treated with copper sulfate, which is expected to kill the algae without harming the geese, ducks and other wildlife.
The pond recently had its third treatment, said Thoennes. He added that the city received a 100 percent guarantee the treatment will work.
Thoennes said preliminary signs are promising. Helped by the weekend's rainfall, about a fourth of the algae growth has dropped to the bottom.
Once enough of the plants are killed off and settle to the bottom of the pond, the city will add natural bacteria into the pond. It will eat the algae, goose droppings and other natural debris on the bottom.
This part of the treatment is also inexpensive - less than $300, according to the park director.
"Hopefully it will make the pond look a lot nicer," Thoennes said.
This treatment is a lot different than the process the city used to clean the pond back in the late 1980s. Back then, it dredged the bottom of the pond, hauling away 886 truckloads of muck, Thoennes recalled.
He said the dredging option isn't as easy today because the muck is considered hazardous waste, which is difficult to dispose of.
What caused the algae to grow so out of control on the pond?
After talking with the Department of Natural Resources, Thoennes suspects that geese were the culprits. They likely flew in with a small piece of the algae attached to them. It got into the pond and spread rapidly.
The city is still exploring ideas of controlling the geese population at Noonan Park. Their droppings have contributed to the pond's mucky appearance.
The city discourages people from feeding the geese. If the geese have it too easy, they stay longer and their population builds. It's even led to geese attacking one another.
One possible idea that Thoennes is looking into that could discourage geese from landing at Noonan Park: swan decoys.
Readers may send their "You Asked" question to Editor Al Edenloff, Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308, fax it to (320) 763-3258, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it off at our office at 225 7th Avenue East.