The ponds have been a topic of discussion for many years, as they have not been maintained adequately. Sediment from “upstream”, residential and street run off and from adjacent properties such as the Winslow Sports Complex has built up over the years, decreasing the water level in all the ponds. The shallow water creates the optimum environment for algae and other invasive plants. The cost to eradicate the offensive vegetation increases as the water level decreases. Some areas have become so infiltrated with sediment that during drier times a muddy marsh or wetland appears, furthering the invasion of unsightly vegetation. This, in turn, is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a health hazard.
Each pond is lined to prevent water seepage into underground karsts. Low water levels and erosion of the shoreline have exposed the liner to UV sunlight which weakens the liner. Leaks, contribute to the inability of the ponds to maintain an adequate water level. Erosion has also become a serious threat to some adjacent homeowners. Specifically, one resident has lost all shoreline buffer between the pond and the property structures. This is a serious flooding issue during heavy rains.
For more than a decade various WFCA Boards have expressed interest in addressing the issues. However, a significant turnover in board members makes it difficult to establish continuity in planning. Approximately seven years ago, a pond committee was formed to advise the Board. However, the pond committee also suffered from member turnover. Before it was disbanded in frustration, the few remaining members submitted recommendations in February 2020. But by then, a totally new Board was struggling to grasp these complex issues.
There have been a multitude of reports, bids, and recommendations submitted to the ever-changing WFCA boards. Evidence of such appears as early as 2008, More recently, a report was commissioned in 2018 with the Davey Resource Group. Following that, a hydrological survey authored by Mr. Andy Knust was obtained in April 2019 from Bledsoe Riggert Cooper and James. The most recent report was delivered in May 2021, again authored by Mr. Andy Knust of Bledsoe Riggert Cooper and James. This report was entitled “Winslow Farms Community Association Pond Improvement Conceptual Design Report.” For this document it is referenced as “The Conceptual Design.”
WFCA Board has indicated this report will be presented to the WFCA membership at the next WFCA Annual General Meeting for a vote. The Conceptual Design provides two alternative options and financial estimates as to what it could cost to install each option. The report provides significant data to assist in making a final recommendation.
Why do anything to the ponds?
The first part of the response is based in legal requirements. The WFCA CCRs clearly state that WFCA is to “keep the waterscape in a first-class condition.” Specifically, WFCA “shall insure, maintain, repair and replace the ponds, and pumping equipment” and apply pesticides necessary to “eradicate undesirable insects and weeds.” Pond maintenance and repair is defined as a “community expense.”
Concerns vacillate between the issue that the shallow ponds may not be able to accommodate what appears to be more frequent heavy rains with the opposite issue that during the dry season the low water level creates an unsightly and unhealthy weedy marsh. Inaction is not an option.
The second part of the response focuses on expenses. The longer a problem is ignored, the more expensive the repairs become. The shallow water levels create greater expense in eliminating invasive vegetation. Erosion is a serious issue that cannot be ignored especially around pond #3 and pond #5.
What are the factors that influence the design of the ponds?
Prior to the development of Winslow Farm, the original landscape was a watershed area that drained into a stream system that fed into Clear Creek. The original stream system became the foundation for the current set of ponds. Seven ponds were created with the installation of concrete structures called weirs.
The weirs serve a double purpose to pool the water behind them while directing excess water over an attractive spillway. Additionally, there are concrete structures under the three bridges that also serve as dams to pool the water.
The water flows into the ponds from a variety of inlets. However, there is a flow through the system of ponds that begins on the north end with Pond #1 closest to South Highland Avenue and continues in a southwest direction to end in Pond #7 located closest to East Winslow Road. Click on the video to understand the drainage area.
There is significant change in elevation between Pond #1 through to Pond #4. However, Ponds #4-#7 are essentially located on the same plane and it would be challenging and cost prohibitive to redesign this area to a stream channel, as there is not enough gradient change to create an adequate water flow. Click here to see details of the current design.
Additionally, any change in configuration has to ensure that enough space exists between current residences to accommodate excess water flow during heavy rains. A deep channel is required for the narrow spaces between some of the units on P3.
Historically, many long term residents remember when water was recirculated through the system and attractive fountains were located in a couple of the ponds. The recirculating pump was located in P7 that forced the water up to P1. Two problems have kept this system from working. P7 became too shallow and the electrical line was accidently cut. In order to restore the power, a new line will need to be installed. Until the water level in P7 can be restored, there isn’t a reason to attempt to repair the system.
With regards to restoring fountains, research has revealed that though fountains are attractive, the most efficient method to add necessary oxygen to the water is to introduce air to the bottom of a pond through the use of aerators.
#1 is after dredging and new liner.
#2 shows the liner floating in pond 2.
#3 shows the weeds growing in Flexamat
#4 shows the Flexamat installed on banks of pond 1 and 2.
What has been done for the ponds?
In the late 2000s increased sediment build up became a concern especially in ponds #1, #2, and #3. The shallow ponds were becoming the perfect environment for increased algae growth.
In 2015 the sediment in ponds #1 and #2 was vacuumed and trucked away. The old liners were removed, and new liners were installed.
The fall of 2016 a product called Flexamat was installed around the banks of both ponds to prevent erosion. Unfortunately, efforts to seed the Flexamat with grass were not successful. Since then, attempts have been made to seed with wildflowers and to plant “plugs” of flowers. The results remain rather dismal. Some weeds have taken hold, but overall, it is not what was anticipated.
The cost for the two-pond project totaled $97,000. The size of the two ponds combined is 0.21 acres.
June 2017, after problems with the liner floating in pond #2, all the weirs were examined and resealed to prevent loss of water in the pond system. Resealing the weir corrected the floating liner problem in pond #2.
Pond 3 dredging
About 3′ of muck was excavated from the north end of pond 3 in 2019 and again in 2020
Pond #3 Sediment had accumulated creating what was often referenced as “the mud flats”. Weeds and cattails took over the area, creating a very unsightly mess and causing concerns over mosquito breeding areas. A homeowner had difficulty reselling their unit due to the unsightly mess. Pond #3 is larger than P1 and P2 combined. The northern half of this pond is much shallower than the southern portion. The pond receives water from several sources including a weir from P2, a stream flowing into the pond from Winslow Woods north of the pond, a street outlet pipe, and several residential storm water outlets.
Bids were obtained to dredge the area close to the bridge and install a rain garden. Two bids were submitted: one for$35,000 and another for $88,000 However, a vote to approve the rain garden failed at the WFCA annual general meeting.
Until 2019, the project languished for lack of attention, when an excavating contractor was hired to dredge the area for two days at a cost of $5,000. This attempt removed only about 3 feet of muck in a limited area. During the ensuring winter sediment was washed back into the dredged area.
In the fall of 2020, another somewhat inconsequential attempt was made to excavate the area. Progress was again limited to the amount of work that could be completed for $5,000. The majority of pond #3 still needs to be dredged.
Pond #3 has eroded the bank behind one of the Moss Creek HOA units. There is no room to walk between the unit and the pond. It is next to impossible for the landscapers to access the area to remove tall weeds. During heavy rains the water flows under the porch, threatening the supports. This is a serious situation that requires urgent attention.
What has been considered?
Do nothing to the ponds and permit nature to take over.
- Rejected for concerns for flooding. As the ponds fill with sediment their ability to accommodate heavy rains will lessen. Given the unprecedented occurrence of heavy rains, this becomes a crucial concern.
- Rejected for expense to control algae and vegetation. As the ponds become shallower the oxygen level in the water decreases, creating the environment for algae (including offensive odors), fish kills and unsightly invasive vegetation. It also becomes more expensive to control this issue.
- Rejected for concerns for property values of units adjacent to ponds would decrease.
- Rejected for legal issues:
- WFCA CCRs clearly state the obligation to maintain a high standard of water quality
- Erosion issues threaten private property
Develop an underground drainage system: Rejected due to extreme costs.
Fill in the ponds: Rejected for flooding issues. If the ponds are filled with soil, there is no method to divert water away from residential property. Even during typical rainfall, flooding would occur. Given the unprecedented occurrence of heavy rains, this becomes a critical concern and therefore is unacceptable.
INFORMATION WAS COLLECTED ON THREE REMAINING OPTIONS
Convert ALL ponds to a Stream Channel
- Rejected: The Conceptual Design plan, as well as the Davey’s report provides several justifications as to why the option to convert ALL the ponds to a stream channel is not an attractive option based upon cost. Both reports do not support a total conversion.
- Additionally, over $90,000 was spent within the last five years to clean ponds #1 and #2. It would be a serious misuse of funds to spend multiple thousands of dollars to redo that work.
Renew the ponds
The Practical Proposal contends that this is the most practical, cost saving and attractive option. The justifications are provided under the section entitled “The Practical Proposal.”
Do a hybrid with the renewal of most of the ponds and convert Pond #3 to a stream channel and alter Pond #4 with a rain garden.
This is one of the two options from the Conceptual Design. The recommendation for a stream channel conversion is limited to Pond #3 with Pond #4 being altered. Even the Conceptual Design plan indicates that in most instances there will be standing water in what is Pond #4 and recommends that a rain garden be installed to mitigate the negative impact of standing shallow water.
What are the criteria to use when making the final decision?
Any adopted option should address the following community concerns:
- Prove to be financially feasible
- Must mitigate flooding of area residential property. Click here for more details.
- Address erosion issues
- Avoid the creation of unsightly and/or unhealthy situations (invasive vegetation, standing shallow water, muddy areas during dry periods) Click here for criteria details