Turtles, fish at risk as popular pond dries up, say concerned residents in Kelowna

The water in the children’s fishing pond off Hall Road in Kelowna is so low that you can clearly see a dead rainbow trout lying at the bottom of it.

“About two months ago, the water was turned off,” area resident David Pfuetzer told Global News.

Pfuetzer, like a lot of other neighbourhood residents, is frequent visitor at Mission Creek Regional Park, where the pond is located.

But over the last eight weeks or so, Pfuetzer said he’s noticed something extremely disturbing when he visits the pond.

“The ponds are drying up and the fish are dying and so are the turtles,” Pfuetzer said.

Now Pfuetzer and many other residents are angry and upset that this unique ecosystem within a regional district park is seemingly in jeopardy.

“The water is probably a couple of feet higher at least,” Pfuetzer said when asked just how far the water has receded since being turned off.

While the drop in water at the trout pond is highly noticeable, down the road, at the turtle pond, the situation is far worse.

“It’s probably three to four feet low here for sure,” said Pfuetzer as he examined the water at level at the turtle pond.

The small pond is home to numerous painted turtles — a species listed as ‘at risk’ in B.C.

So where is all the water?

Well, it’s a bit of complicated story, but the trouble with the ever-evaporating water is that the tap to the pond has been turned off.

The trout pond used to be supplied with excess water from the South East Kelowna Irrigation District, or SEKID, via a fountain at one end of the pond.

But the Hall Road area of Kelowna now receives its water supply from the City of Kelowna.

However, the city chlorinates its water — and while that may be good for drinking, it isn’t good for flora and fauna.

So for now, the fountain or water has stopped, and the pond continues to dry up.

A sign at one end of the pond indicates that regional district officials are aware of the problem and that a new water source for the pond is ‘coming soon’.

For Pfuetzer the sign is just window dressing.

“It’s because it’s not addressing a specific date and we need that,” Pfuetzer said.

“We’re in the process right now of looking for a contractor to be able to drill a well for us,” said Wayne Darlington from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

Darlington claims the RDCO is moving as fast as it can on turning the taps back on to the prized pond, hopefully by the end of June.

“We are doing everything we possibly can to get that to happen and I can appreciate residents are concerned and that they are upset,” Darlington told Global News on Tuesday.

For Pfuetzner that new water source can’t come soon enough.

“We need it fixed and we need it fixed now,” Pfuetzner said.

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