FGCU Water School promotes pond management through HOA project
When residents at Fairwinds, a small homeowner association (HOA) in Bonita Springs, noticed the only stormwater pond within the community starting to erode at the edges, there was concern for the safety of the houses built close to the water.
“(Fairwinds) looked into ways they could fix it and all these contractors were saying they could put a bunch of rocks around the border and do this expensive engineering thing,” Dr. James Douglass, professor at FGCU’s Water School, said. “The HOA president was looking for something more natural and I thought it was perfect because the plants that I’m really interested in can help with the erosion problem because they keep the bank in place.”
Now, Douglass along with two FGCU biology students, Tori Guarino and Carter Oleckna, are on a mission to restore the pond at Fairwinds, from both a plant and water quality standpoint. Their project started in October of last year.
“I think one of the reasons that they’re having the erosion problem is because, up until we started with this pond, they always used to mow away all the plants around the edge and then spray poison on it,” Douglass said. “So it would just be bare dirt and it doesn’t take a geologist to know that if you’ve got bare dirt with no plants on it, it’ll erode away really quickly.”
Douglass and his students wanted to make sure they closely follow the scientific process for this study. They set up 10 transects around the pond to take inventory of all the plants from the dry land down to deep water, so they know what was growing at the start. At half of the transects, the team is removing the invasive torpedo grass and planting native jointed spike rush. At the other five transects, they are letting both native and nonnative plants run its course.