Pond reopened, geese blamed for spreading bacteria

GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Swimmers can once again dive backinto Lake Ponder at Crowley's Ridge State Park.

The lake was closed since June 7 because the water testedunsafely high for E. Coli.  

Park employees say a family of geese that had settled on thelake was to blame for the increase in bacteria.

Following four clear water samples, the Greene County HealthDepartment has declared the popular swimming area safe to reopen.

Heather Runyan, the park interpreter, says the staff membershave now had to take extra precautions to stop the birds from returning.

"What we did is we did use pyrotechnics provided by the WildlifeServices from the USDA," Runyan says. "We pretty much scared the geese off."

The pyrotechnics proved successful because the geese havenow sought shelter across the road at Walcott Lake, which is acceptable sinceno one can swim there anyway.

"We also added chlorine [to Lake Ponder] to make sure thebacteria was gone," she adds.

Park employees have also spread birdrepellent in the grass around the lake to detract the geese from coming back.

Now that the staff has taken theseprecautions, Runyan says they will need to concentrate on recouping the revenuethat's been lost.

"June in general is usually a prettygood month for us revenue-wise, so we do have some hope to make that up but itwas a big hit," Runyan says. "Not only did we lose the revenue for swimming, wealso lost revenue in cabins, camping and pavilions because people canceledreservations because part of the reason they were coming was to swim."

Lake Ponder will be open for swimming Monday throughThursday, from noon until 6 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.for the rest of the summer.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. Allrights reserved.