Water Quality Problem in Kemp Mill Pond

Log Sheet for addressing a water quality problem in the Sligo Creek watershed

Ed Murtagh
September 18, 2003
Update
Ed Murtagh
November 28, 2003 Update
Update
Ed Murtagh
July 24, 2006
Update
Ed Murtagh
March 4, 2016

On September 13, 2003, during the Sweep the Creek, clean up volunteers in Section 9 (the Headwaters of Sligo Creek) noticed bright green stormwater run off coming from the direction of the Kemp Mill Shopping Center. After some investigation, we were able to determine that the source of the green stormwater was from the Kemp Mill Park pond located at the corner of Arcola Ave. and Lamberton Dr. The pond was now the same bright green.

We contacted the Maryland Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) water quality hot line with our concern. The next day a DEP employee investigated and notified us that the green color was the result of an algae bloom. The DEP employee noted that algae bloom was the result of the large number of ducks and geese that were residing at the pond over the summer. He mentioned that he was contacting the Parks, who were responsible for maintaining the pond, and advising them of the situation and requesting that an algaecide be applied. We were concerned that the source of the problem also needed to be addressed, the large population of ducks and geese. At one time there used to be signs telling people not to feed the birds. The signs disappeared over the summer. Since then a lot of people have been coming to the park to feed the ducks and geese.


On Sept 16th when the photos were taken, there were at least 100 ducks and geese. A large flock of ducks was crossing Lamberton Dr, blocking the traffic. The park grounds were covered with goose and duck feces and feathers. In the middle of all this, people were feeding the birds! We got a picture of a couple with two large bags feeding one of the flocks of birds. The pond was fouled and the nutrients from the bird droppings created the ideal environment for an algae bloom. The algae bloom results in a depletion of oxygen in the body of water.

DEP mentioned that we should monitor the situation. We are now requesting that the Parks install permanent signs telling people not to feed the ducks and geese. FoSC is considering asking permission to make temporary signs telling people why they should not feed the birds. Large rainfall often washes all this foul water out into Sligo Creek. Abundant rainfall and algaecide may take care of the symptoms in the pond, but we need to be vigilant and ensure that the source of the problem is also addressed. Sally Gagne wants to see Park employees take more responsibility for managing wildlife. Our concern lets them we're watching. This larger goal should set the tone on how we address this problem.

November 28, 2003 Update

After contacting the Park Manager about installing a "Do Not Feed the Birds" sign, the Park Manager posted three signs around the pond. With the cooler weather and hopefully reduced feeding, the number of waterfowl has dropped off dramatically. The DEP contacted me to let me know that the Park was going to drain and clean out Kemp Mill Park pond. This week they started draining the pond. We have sent E-mails to some of the neighborhood list serves asking the homeowners not to feed the waterfowl at the Kemp Mill Park. The e-mail also explains why they should not be fed.

Kemp Mill Pond being drained, Photo Nov. 27 New "do Not Feed the Animals" sign and notice about pond being drained and cleaned.