Ask WAVE: Why is a Louisville park’s pond allowed to fester with algae?

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 1:39 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At Chickasaw Park in West Louisville, there is plenty of green space: green trees and grass as far as you can see. But another green view is less enjoyable for park-goers. The algae on the small pond has been covering the water feature for months.

Jeffery submitted a question to Ask WAVE:

“Why is the Chickasaw Park pond allowed to fester with possibly toxic algae? The algae has covered the entire pond since late April.”

University of Louisville biologist Tamara Sluss said it’s rare for local algae to be toxic, but there is indeed a chance that it could be. Summertime conditions are perfect for algal blooms, toxic or not, with high temperatures and less rain. Furthermore, still, shallow ponds like at Chickasaw Park are ideal breeding grounds for the algae.

Louisville Metro code forbids swimming or boating at Chickasaw. Therefore, the Metro Parks department said the algae isn’t an imminent threat to the public. Because of that lack of threat, the city does not strive to kill the bloom each summer, instead letting the algae die away naturally as the season changes.

Long term, however, Louisville has a plan. Part of a multi-million dollar renovation beginning in 2023 will nearly triple the pond’s depth, helping to prevent algal blooms.

Until then, Sluss said that park-goers should remember never to touch the algae, as there is the small chance it could be harmful to humans.

Concerned residents can also call the Kentucky Division of Water (502-564-3410), which handles the professional algal testing in the state.

If you have a question for Ask WAVE, email kathleen.ninke@wave3.com.