LAKEWOOD RANCH — For the last two years, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall’s director of operations, Ryan Heise, has been looking for more environmentally-friendly ways of improving the aesthetics of the Lakewood Ranch’s stormwater ponds.
The addition of algae-eating carp in many of Lakewood Ranch’s ponds has had a positive aesthetic impact and also reduced the amount of chemicals required to treat ponds, Heise said.
Until now, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the agency that regulates local water issues, has not allowed carp in ponds with littoral shelves, or shallow areas with plantings, because it feared the fish would eat healthy vegetation.
But Town Hall officials learned last week they would be able to install carp in at least 30 lakes with littoral zones, paving the way for the community to have carp in all of its roughly 280 lakes.
“They’re one of the most effective (tools we have),” Heise said of the carp. “It’s awesome because it’s biological and it’s sustainable. It’s also cost effective.”
Heise said the fish will be introduced to their new homes in October and November, when the weather is cooler and oxygen levels in lakes are higher.
Operations staff is working to construct and install carp barriers, which prevent the fish from leaving Lakewood Ranch’s stormwater system and entering the local river system, Heise said.
Heise and Paul Chetlain, maintenance manager for the Inter-District Authority, began working in mid-2010 with the Fish and Wildlife Commission and SWFWMD to get permits and approvals — both to use carp in all of Lakewood Ranch’s lakes and also to determine how many can be placed in each body of water.