The Harrison Township Environmental Commission completed a vital phase in restoring the health of the Mullica Hill Pond and promoting recreational activities with the installation of an aerating fountain.
Commission Chairman Mike Gonserkevis said the fountain helps to mix the water and “reintroduce a higher dissolved oxygen content.” Dissolved oxygen helps promote the life of fish and other animals within the pond and the overall health of the pond itself.
“We’re slowly going to improve the quality of the pond, reduce the amount of algae, keep the movement of the water going, keep the nutrients flowing through and not allow them to take over,” said Gonserkevis.
He added there are other methods of reintroducing dissolved oxygen into the water, however, because the pond is shallow, they would not work as well.
Despite the commission losing momentum due to the state reworking the pond’s dam on Route 322-Mullica Hill Road, he added they were thrilled to see the idea come to fruition, and it’s “just the beginning of bringing the pond’s health back to where it needs to be.”
The commission is also looking to get more recreational and educational activities occurring at the pond to make the public, or students, more aware of what’s in town.
He said the commission would like to put up various boards with information stating what people can do to protect wetlands and native birds to the area, all to create a living classroom.
“If we can get it to the point where some of our local schools can come here and use it as a field trip area, then that’s a great goal for us,” said Gonserkevis. “We’d love to for this to become a classroom where kids would come to learn about the environment and how to maintain it and take care of it.”
On the recreation side, he said the fountain draws attention to the pond and promotes more activities such as fishing, picnicking or boating.
“Not everyone realizes the township owns this piece of property,” he said. “They’re not sure as to if they can pull in and park, and sit at the picnic tables. We want to define the area and promote the fact that you can come with your family.”
He said people come to the pond to fish in the warmer months to catch-and-release various types of fish. At the moment, the state is not restocking the pond for trout due to its depth.
“The more activity we can get on the pond, it can help stir some of that sediment and move the algae and get the mixing we need done,” he said.
He later added the fountain was a “strong start” for the commission on pond improvements, and it is looking into other initiatives, such as a possible unit in the back of the pond to bring colder water to the top and keep stratification from occurring, which can help stop the growth of algae.
“Our next step is to update the township committee with another PowerPoint and let them know what we’ve accomplished in phase one, and what phase two could look like,” said Gonserkevis. “Going forward into 2020, a potential budget phase could look like X, Y and Z.”