Duck muck trucking

Photos by Orville Hector | Daily TidingsPaul Kay clears the way for a truck to start pumping the water out of the pond.

It's going to take a fire hose and 100 trips by pumper trucks to remove 300,000 gallons of liquefied duck waste from Lithia Park's upper duck pond.

With crews working six days a week, the removal process that started Monday will be done in about two weeks.

Then Southern Oregon University students who designed a long-term treatment plan will have a clean slate &

er, pond &

to work with.

In November 2007, environmental studies majors Helena Verduyn, Calvin Cho and Nicholas Stevenson presented a list of treatment options to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.

Once muck is removed, the parks department will use the students' idea to divert some Talent Irrigation District water to flow into the pond. Water will be taken out of the pond to help irrigate Lithia Park.

The circulation of water should help keep the pond in better condition. It's only source of water now is groundwater, Parks Director Don Robertson said.

When the irrigation season is over this fall and water stops flowing in TID's ditches, the parks department will use an ultraviolet system that kills bacteria to treat the pond water, he said.

The entire project will cost $85,000, Robertson said.

Pumper trucks are hauling the duck waste to a dairy farm in Sam's Valley to use as field fertilizer, he said.

SOU students are monitoring the work and cooperating with Oregon State University on a research project to capture goldfish and turtles from the pond while it is being cleaned. The fish will be frozen and used as food at Wildlife Images, a wildlife care and rehabilitation center outside Grants Pass. A similar fate awaits any non-native turtles that are captured, but native and non-native turtles alike will probably leave the pond and hide during the cleanup, Robertson said.

The parks department previously installed a filtration system in Lithia Park's lower duck pond. But the lower pond has a hard bottom, which made that system more feasible, while the upper pond has a soft bottom, he said.

Robertson asked for patience from people who visit the section of the park near the upper duck pond in the next few weeks.

"It will not be a particularly pleasant-looking sight.

We ask people to bear with us," he said.

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