While the duck pond in El Dorado Park just off Studebaker Road long has been a popular spot for families — especially those with young children — it also long has been a challenge for city maintenance and management crews.

Water in the pond has a tendency to stagnate as aeriators and fountains frequently break down while large flocks of birds contaminate the water with their waste. Concrete on walkways and the pond sides are crumbling, causing slipping and tripping hazards.

And the pond leaks.

Fixes for the pond have been discussed for years, but stalled due to cost and diverse goals for pond use. It sits next to the El Dorado Park Golf Course, and is being considered as a source for irrigation water there.

Last week, Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo offered an update on the pond status with a proposed work plan. Jennifer Carey, community relations officer at Public Works, said Monday in an email that the pond should be fenced sometime this June, with construction starting in July.

The project could cost up to $4.554 million, with funding coming from the city's Measure A, Measure W and grants through the Long Beach Water Department. Once completed, the refurbished pond would act as storage for recycled water, which can be used for irrigation.

Proposed work includes draining the pond to add a new liner, re-landscape to include wetlands areas and planters, adding a forebay, replacing pumps and other equipment, new sidewalks, irrigation pumps and piping to the golf course and ADA improvements from the parking lot to the pond.

Carey said that no work will begin until two biologist nesting surveys are complete. Because most of the birds and wildlife around the pond are wild, there are no plans to relocate them — the report says they will naturally relocate once construction begins, then return after the work is done.

One exception to that approach is the red-eared slider turtles that have populated the pond. They are considered an invasive species, and will be relocated to The Reptile Zoo, a rescue organization in Fountain Valley. They will be adopted out from there.

Tai Tseng, the assistant general manager of operations at the Long Beach Water Department, called the project a win-win-win opportunity by adding recycled water storage, improving water quality at the duck pond due to daily circulation and improving irrigation at the golf course. Still to be determined, he said, is who will be responsible for the day-to-day operation once the construction is complete.

Mungo said in her newsletter that bids for the construction contract are due by Wednesday, April 14. Once a winning bidder is selected, the contract will go to the full City Council, with another opportunity for the public to comment.

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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