As rising temperatures, shallow water, and blooms of algae and duckweed are plaguing Willow Pond, the villages of Hewlett Harbor and Hewlett Bay Park seek to restore the watering hole through a series of enzyme treatments, which would begin as early as July 29.
According to Hewlett Harbor Deputy Mayor Len Oppenheimer, the pond is dying and being choked off due to the abundance of algae. “There is a cycle of blooms that eventually die off and contribute to sediment at the bottom of the pond, thereby adding more muck and displacing water,” he said. “The less water, the faster the pond heats up, and thus a cycle of rapid deterioration in the pond occurs.”
Ecologist Ron Abrams looked at the failed solutions the Village of Hewlett Harbor had implemented in the past before discussing a range of options with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Abrams said treating the pond with enzymes, which will settle into the muck and biologically dissolve it, is the next option. “The enzyme is not a chemical; it’s not toxic and it won’t harm any marine life in the pond,” Abrams said. “After the enzymes are used, a copper sulfate treatment will be introduced to clean up the water to see how the enzymes worked.” A large assortment of birds, egrets, wood storks, ducks, hawks and fish live in or nearby the pond.
The cost of the treatments, Oppenheimer said, will be split between the two villages. “Currently, the project is not funded throughout grants and is expected to cost between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on what treatments are needed and the frequency,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re buying time to receiving funding to dredge the sediment from the pond. Generally, grants for dredging are received after we’ve taken measures to correct the problem, prior to going for the bigger picture.”
After the first treatment, Abrams will come back to the pond later in the year and observe the changes in the muck and algae. “After those two rounds of treatment, we’ll have a good idea of what to do next year,” he said. “If all goes well in the first year, we’ll just need to continue doing that in the future. I think we’ll find great progress.”