Northstar Pond needs a fountain

By From page A10 | October 11, 2013

Northstar Pond should have an attractive fountain.

At the same time, the city of Davis Parks Department should remove the two aerators currently running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. They serve no purpose and on quiet days create a din that destroys the pond’s tranquility. We value that tranquility and are disappointed daily when the quiet around our house is disrupted for no good reason.

The aerators are a costly mistake. There is no reasonable debate about that. Since installed, they have cost the city upwards of $50,000, continue to require maintenance and electricity, and produce no benefit.

I’m a Ph.D. environmental engineer, specializing in surface water quality. I’ve lived next to, and observed, the pond for seven years. The aerators have no demonstrable effect. My neighbors and I have seen no change in either algae or odors, both of which come and go seasonally whether the aerators are running or not.

Without exception, water quality experts agree that aerators are inappropriate for this pond. One reason, among many, is that they affect so little area. The pond is very shallow and covers the area of a football field. There is no circulation. The aerators simply churn a very small portion of pond water continuously. You can see this in historic satellite photos (GoogleEarth Sept. 1, 2012). At least 90 percent of the pond is untouched and the aerators actually seem to encourage algae growth around them.

It seems to me that the Parks Department has abandoned pond management and is simply playing public relations. Staff and management understand that the aerators have no effect on pond water quality. They run them to mollify a small group of vocal citizens who visit the park and like seeing a water feature in the pond.

A better and less expensive solution would be to remove the aerators and install a fountain more appropriate to our neighborhood. Include our community in its selection and placement. An attractive fountain in place of aerators would be a gift to neighbors of the pond and visitors alike, and would help reestablish quiet and tranquility among the appreciable benefits of Northstar Park.

Andy Bale

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