Fort Worth

Plano Combating Trash, Silt Buildup in Ponds With New Approach

Prairie Meadow Park is currently undergoing the new pond cleaning process

It is a side effect of development: trash, mud and debris carried by rain runoff into parks and ponds. The City of Plano is embarking on a project to dredge city ponds without bringing in excavators or relocating wildlife.

The new method uses a commercial scuba diver, armed with hydraulic excavation equipment, to suck out the muck.

"It would basically be like watching someone vacuum the bottom of the pond," said commercial diver Logan Cazee.

The debris, which includes decaying organic matter, is pulled into a massive bag that filters usable water out and funnels it back into the pond.

The leftover garbage is carried away by trucks to be disposed of in a landfill.

Plano’s Park Compliance Coordinator Courtney Vanous says the new method is less disruptive to turtles and fish in the pond. It also requires fewer pieces of heavy equipment that damage the grass. The new method still uses some heavy equipment. Plano says areas damaged by trucks will be restored with new grass.

"It's a lot more serene of a process," said Vanous. "It doesn't look like a construction site, which is really nice. It's a lot more pleasant for people and people still come and fish in the pond while we’re sucking the sediment out."

If the city didn't remove the build-up of sediment in ponds, Vanous says the pond would eventually fill and harm the wildlife.

"We'd start out with having a lot of algae maybe choking out some of the aquatic life and eventually it would just fill in and become a mud flat," Vanous said. "We wouldn’t have a pond anymore."

The restoration takes 35 days. The large bags remain on site for at least 30 more days to filter out silt and garbage – and allow clean water back into the pond.

The City of Plano budgeted $352,150 for the Prairie Meadow Park pond restoration - hiring IWC Texas Construction and Development out of McKinney for the project. The company sub-contracted American Underwater Services in Fort Worth to do the diving.

Crews completed restoration of a small pond at White Rock Trail Park in December. It plans to start another pond restoration at Hoblitzelle Park in two weeks.

"This is the method we're going to use in the future," said Vanous.

Later this year, the city expects to complete similar restoration projects at Haggard Park and Shawnee Park.

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