Long Beach begins renovation of Eldorado duck pond amid bird flu threat – Press Telegram

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A tall wooden fence encloses a duck pond in El Dorado Park, and construction crews are on site to begin a $5.5 million renovation of the long-troubled park structure, part of a larger $9 million water circulation plan.

But more than a hundred birds of different species — ducks, geese, swans, night herons, egrets and others — still live on the pond, and now the city has to deal with them. an outbreak of bird flu in the district. When the outbreak was announced on October 13, officials warned that sick birds may have to be euthanized to protect the remaining bird population.

A group of young night herons – black and white – adults – perched on a construction fence at a duck pond in Eldorado Park. (Photo by Harry Salzgaver, Grunion/SCNG)

At the end of last week, flocks of ducks and geese, as well as other species could be seen singly or in pairs behind the construction fence. To prepare for construction, the city has developed plans to remove and relocate wildlife from the pond area, although it was unclear how the winged birds, which can fly in and out on their own, will be handled. Demolition work did not begin on the pond itself, the fountain was still working on Friday.

As of Friday, there were no details on the city’s plans.

“Avian influenza, or bird flu, has affected the wildlife at El Dorado Duck Pond,” Public Works spokeswoman Joy Contreras said in an email Thursday. “Construction is underway, but additional steps are being taken and discussed to reduce the spread of bird flu.”

The duck pond was a maintaining headaches for more than ten years — overflow when pumps fail, fish kills due to lack of circulation and water quality, leaks in lining and cracks in concrete and pavement around the pond, and other issues. Several fixes were proposed and rejected before a comprehensive, multi-agency plan was approved last year.

Los Angeles Engineering Inc. was awarded a $5.5 million contract last December for major work on the pond, as well as improvements to the water main, sidewalks and landscaping around the pond. The pond will be excavated and drained, then retrofitted with new pumps and other piping.

With funding and support from the Department of Water Resources, the pond’s water source will be switched to recycled potable water and the pond will be connected to the golf course’s irrigation system, creating a more sustainable pond water circulation system.

Although the implementation of the project was supposed to take less than a year, the work season was significantly shortened. A state ordinance last year said the city must avoid work that could disturb the nesting season during the nesting period — Feb. 1 through Aug. 15, according to the state Wildlife Department. City rules extend that time to the end of September.

That means the contractor still has about three months. It is not yet known how far the project will go during this time. However, the city’s website page says the new pond could be filled in September 2023 and habitat restoration will begin a year later.

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