Pond Management: Litterbug Alert!

March 31st, 2011

Topics: SOLitude News

AS SEEN IN LVE Links, Loudon Valley Estates Homeowners Association, Written by Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist 

litterbug_alert_by_shannon_pg_2One of the least desirable activities that I perform on a monthly basis is the removal of trash from ponds and lakes that we service. You would not believe the stuff that we pull out of ponds! The usual suspects are plastic bottles, cans, children’s toys, soggy newspapers, plastic grocery bags, paper cups, and hundreds of pieces of Styrofoam “popcorn”. I have also had the pleasure of removing tires, appliances, bicycles, shopping carts, “For Sale” signs, miscellaneous auto parts, shoes and clothing, dirty diapers, and lots of other disgusting items that I won’t mention. There is even a king-sized mattress lying on the bottom of one of our ponds – it will remain there indefinitely because it is not visible from the shore, and the client is not thrilled with the extra cost involved in removing a waterlogged mattress off the bottom of the pond.All of these items ended up in the water because humans were careless, lazy, or downright spiteful in their handling of their garbage and their attitude towards the environment. Carelessness is almost excusable – we’ve all accidentally dropped a bottle cap that rolls into the sewer or had a paper cup blow out the back window of our cars. But what about the bike that we dutifully pull out of the water and leave on the shore with the hopes that the child who lost it will reclaim it? Guess again – there it is in the pond again the next week! And the mattress? I just can’t understand why it’s easier to dump a mattress in a pond than to take it to the landfill. If only I could force the people who would do something like that to assist me in litter patrol for a month or two!Recently, though, a new possibility has crept into my mind. At one of our properties, we consistently remove several carefully-tied bags of dog poop from the pond. Certainly, a responsible dog-owner who would go the extra mile to pick up after their dog would not just toss it in the storm sewer afterwards, right? It has occurred to me that there is a distinct possibility that maybe there are people who don’t know that storm sewers do not flow to the landfill or some mysterious “trash collection apparatus”. Maybe they just don’t realize that they discharge directly into our local ponds, streams and rivers. So perhaps education is the key. Maybe if we all share these common sense reminders with themembers of our communities, it might help to keep some of the trash out of our ponds and waterways:

1. Be aware that the storm sewers in our neighborhoods flow directly into a pond, stream, or river. Fish, turtles, and frogs do not appreciate our trash in their homes. Placards like the one pictured in the article can be placed on the sewers in your neighborhood as a reminder.
2. It’s helpful to bag all garbage when it’s put out by the street for pick-up, even if it’s in a can with a lid. It doesn’t take a very strong gust of wind to topple a can and send the garbage blowing. Trust me – cans and lids are among the items we frequently remove from ponds.
3. If there are common areas in your community, it is a good idea to provide convenient trash receptacles nearby, and to have them emptied frequently. Many trash removal and landscaping companies provide these services for very affordable prices.
4. Virginia is ranked among the top ten states in the nation for our litter control programs, with fines for offenders of up to $1,000.00. So if you were to ever consider tossing your empty water bottle on the ground instead of taking the extra minute to put it in an appropriate recycling or disposal container, keep in mind that there may be a Police Officer (or a concerned Lake Manager) lurking nearby to set you straight!

SŌLitude manages Persimmon Pond in our community, controlling nuisance vegetation, maintaining the fountain, and removing litter from the water.

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Shannon Junior is an Aquatic Ecologist with SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at

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