Fish Out Of Water At Wichita's Buffalo Park

People in one area of west Wichita are turning up their noses because of an increasing stench.  The bad smell is coming from dead fish that are rotting in the Buffalo Park Pond on Maize Road.

Wichita Buffalo Park is a public park and community fishing area located near Central and Maize Road.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

People in one area of west Wichita are turning up their noses because of an increasing stench. The bad smell is coming from dead fish that are rotting in the Buffalo Park Pond on Maize Road.

Wichita Buffalo Park is a public park and community fishing area located near Central and Maize Road. Ashlee Bray was getting suspicious something wasn't quite right when she brought her four-year-old daughter, Tristan, to Buffalo Park to play Monday. "Well, I just noticed nobody was at the park, and there's usually a lot of people at this park," Bray said.

It was Bray's nose that led her to the problem in the pond where she used to fish. "The water used to be really high. It looked nice, but obviously now it looks disgusting," she said.

Even four-year-old Tristan knows what's causing the stench. "It smells like dead fish," she said.

There are more dead fish than I care to count. There's only a little standing water left here. There are two issues according to City of Wichita Parks and Recreation Director Doug Kupper. For one, the city discovered a leak in the pond a few years back. Kupper said the water is leaking out of the bottom and into the water table.

Kupper said the leak became a problem because of the current drought. "With the unusual amount of rainfall we've had the last couple of three years, the rainfall kept up with the leak and we didn't have to worry about any problems along those lines," Kupper said.

But the leak isn't the only issue here. The pond's been invaded.
"We discovered we had an invasive aquatic plant," Kupper said. Kupper is referring to Eurasian watermilfoil. It's an invasive aquatic weed with feathery underwater foliage. The weed reduces the level of oxygen in the water so the fish suffocated not only from the lowering water level, but also from the invading Eurasian watermilfoil, Kupper said.

The pond will reopen for fishing next year. Some callers have asked why the city did not try to save the fish by moving them elsewhere. Kupper said if they had transported any of the live fish to another pond, they would have risked contaminating that pond with Eurasian watermilfoil. So the Buffalo Park Pond fish were left to their own demise.


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