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As the sun went down on a recent Tuesday, light glimmered off the surface of a revitalized Eden Duck Pond, casting twinkling sparkles onto smiling children’s faces. The idyllic pond was surrounded by joyous residents of the Eden subdivision. A few dozen waterfowl, seemingly proud of their new home, punctuated the neighbors’ conversations with quacks and honks. On the same evening that San Antonio celebrated National Night Out on Oct. 1, residents dedicated the new Eden Duck Pond.
With the man-made pond appearing so lush and picturesque, it was a challenge to remember how it looked in May, when the Rivard Report first featured it in its Bexar’s Eye series. Eden residents had been facing many issues with their beloved pond, including algae, erosion, overpopulation of turtles and non-native waterfowl species, and water depletion – its most pressing issue.
During the summer, the pond was losing 1,600-2,200 gallons of water per day. “We had a cracked layer in our bentonite clay liner. It was devastating to us,” Eden Homeowners Association President Myrtle Parks told the Rivard Report in May.
At that point, most of the water had evaporated, grass was growing throughout the cracked lining, and waterfowl were predominantly gathered around blue plastic kiddie pools that were continually replenished by Eden residents.
Not only was the liner crack contributing to the pond’s destruction, the non-native species were causing some controversy. Texas Parks and Wildlife Urban Biologist Jessica Alderson had consulted with Eden residents before the renovations to the pond began. “[The non-native species] are taking away from the natural habitat and competing with migratory birds and native species,” she told the Rivard Report in May.
She had recommended euthanizing all non-native waterfowl, but Eden residents stressed the importance of keeping all the waterfowl at the pond because of the neighbors’ emotional attachment to the animals.
The Eden HOA took additional measures to keep their waterfowl healthy in reworking the design of the pond. The original pond occupied 15,000 square feet. The initial depth was just over 3 feet. The new pond is smaller and deeper.
Parks described the new design at the unveiling. “The surface area is 6,800 square feet. It’s 5-6 feet deep in certain areas. This has allowed us to take the depth of the water down and keep it cooler, because the shallow water evaporates quicker and grows bacteria faster. This pond is a much healthier pond, and the aeration system is there to circulate the water and improve the water quality. The river rock around the edge helps serve as a filtration system,” she said.
The Eden HOA surpassed its $35,000 GoFundMe goal and was able to accomplish the completion of the pond through additional donations of neighbors and sponsors. Councilman Clayton Perry (D10), who worked closely with the Eden HOA from the beginning of the process, approved their application for the City Council Project Fund (CCPF) to get funds to help pay the San Antonio Water Systems for the water to fill up the pond.
While he is confident that funds will be awarded for the pond’s water, Perry is unsure of the amount. “We don’t have the estimate from SAWS yet. We’re still waiting for that to find out how much water they use to fill it up and how much it will cost,” Perry said.
At the dedication, Perry spoke about the initiative he saw in Eden residents and the pride he felt looking at the pond. “This is your legacy here in this neighborhood. Y’all are known for the duck pond,” he said.
After his speech and a few other commemorative notes, the members of the Eden HOA gathered together to unveil a plaque hidden under a cover held down by rocks. Parks said, “I want each of these [Eden] board members to pick up a rock [that] represents … all the challenges that we have faced throughout this year … but with your help and their support and dedication we’ve been able to overcome.”
Members of the Eden HOA board lifted the cover. “Fond memories of its past / Bright hopes for its future,” reads the new plaque on a large stone near the edge of the water.