Willow Brook is a community in Sarasota that was built between 2000 and 2002 with 54 residences and a population of about 150. Their Lisa detention ponds are now over twenty years old and some enhancement is needed to help control bank erosion.

To learn more about an ongoing healthy pond maintenance program, John Hawke, head of the pond committee, attended the Healthy Pond Workshop in Englewood back in February and scheduled a screening of the Healthy Pond PowerPoint presentation for a Board meeting with Willow Brook residents. It was at this meeting that the Board got full support from the community to move forward with a healthy pond maintenance program.

Concerns by some members in the community about the cost of a pond program were addressed as they learned from the presentation that an ongoing Healthy Pond Program is actually much more cost effective than waiting for serious problems of erosion to develop. The key elements of the healthy pond program adopted by Willow Brook include:

Creating a No Mow Zone that is at least 8 inches to 12 inches tall and at least 3 feet wide
Planting native aquatic plants on the pond’s littoral shelf to a density that reaches at least 65%
Planting the rest of the shallow area of the pond to a density of at least 30% to 50%
Using Best Pond practices for irrigation and fertilizing
Reducing the use of herbicides (Copper Sulfate) both in and around the pond

The adoption of a No Mow Zone keeps heavy 1,000-pound lawnmowers off the pond’s banks which over time is a major cause of erosion. The introduction of aquatic plants in the shallow areas around the pond helps reduce erosion from wind and wave action in the pond and crowds out algal growth. The Best Practices for irrigation and fertilizing reduce nitrogen inflow into the pond, the major source of algal growth. Using fewer chemicals in and around the pond saves money and brings the pond back to a more natural life cycle that will allow the desirable new littoral plants to flourish.

The recent installation of native aquatic plants by Admiral Environmental went very well as shown above and the community received funding from the Healthy Pond Collaborative that covered the cost of 3,500 plants in five different varieties.

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