Fish kill in Lakewood Ranch worries residents

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Residents in a Lakewood Ranch neighborhood say their 4th of July BBQ plans were ruined due the overwhelming smell coming from a retention pond behind their home. The pond has had continual algae problems that are concerning to many in the environmentally-friendly neighborhood.

Just days ago, the pond was full of dead fish and algae, causing residents to question the community's recent effort to improve the pond.

"We couldn't cook out. The stench was bad." Resident Terri Tadle says her holiday plans were ruined due to the smell coming off the retention pond in her backyard

Kids were even exposed to the stench and algae while spending time in their backyard. "It smelled very bad, and the water was green, and we walked closer and there was just piles of dead fish," says resident Mike Button.

"It was kind of really green and blue...not a color you would normally see the pond to be. My dogs were going crazy because they smelled something strange, and my husband walked over there and just saw dead fish floating in the pond and it was full of algae scum," says Marlee Forsthoffer, who lives near the pond.

Last week, Lakewood Ranch community maintenance crews came out to install a solar-powered aeration system in the pond, in an effort to get rid of the continual algae problem.

"This solar aeration unit just adds oxygen to the water. And the more oxygen in the water, the healthier the pond is," says Ryan Heise, director of operations at Lakewood Ranch.

The new system has been installed in 30 retention ponds throughout Lakewood Ranch, and is supposed to not only get rid of the algae, but provide a healthy environment for fish and wildlife living in the pond.

However, it wasn't until after the system was up and running that residents noticed dead fish rising to the surface.

"It wouldn't be the aeration unit that would have caused any algae blooms or alleged fish kill. They would actually be nutrients that are being consumed by algae. And when those nutrients and algae start to decompose, then you got a drop in the oxygen level. And it's the drop in the oxygen level that usually results in the fish kill."

Maintenance crews responded to a concerned neighbor's call Monday and took water samples, which resulted in normal levels.

At this time, they do not know what caused the fish kill.

The pond is now clear of algae, and at this time there are no signs of fish kill. The community's maintenance crew plans to keep an eye on the pond.