CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Residents in the South Norfolk section of Chesapeake are holding their noses after dead fish started to surface on a pond in their park.
The fish kill follows a troublesome algae bloom that has plagued Lakeside Park all summer. The city has treated the water several times to knock down the algae, but officials say those treatments are not what killed the fish.
“People come out here to the park to enjoy the park, but they haven’t been able to enjoy the park for a month now,” said Murray Cahoon, who’s lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years.
Public works crews were cleaning up dead fish and green mounds of muck Tuesday morning. The smell on the Bainbridge Boulevard side of the park from the fish is overwhelming.
“We have a lot of residents that are concerned about the smell of the dead fish,” said neighbor Claire Navarro, who has two daughters 10 and 12. “The kids can’t even play in their park anymore, and I want the city to clean this up.”
Eric Martin, Chesapeake Director of Public Works, says a lack of rain this summer is what caused the algae bloom. “It’s been especially bad this year with the dry weather. We’re not getting a lot of turnover with the water in the lake. That’s been a big problem.”
It’s a stormwater pond, so it takes in pet waste, yard fertilizers, water fowl droppings. The city treated the water with herbicides four times, but says those treatments are not what killed the fish.
The fish washed in from the Elizabeth River at recent high tide.
A lot of fish from the river and crabs from the river washed into the pond,” Martin said. “They ended up trapped in the fresh water and we had a little bit of a fish kill that we just now cleaned up.”
While the smell of rotting fish lingers near the pond, Cahoon says he hopes to see healthy fish in these waters some time soon.
“They need to get it cleaned up and purify the water some kind of way, and then restock it.”
Martin called the fish kill in a stormwater pond a “rare occasion.” He says the city will add an aerator and monitor the algae levels to improve water quality at Lakeside Park.