Residents and city officials are concerned after goldfish have been discovered in storm ponds in Lethbridge.
Stephanie Olsen is a member of her neighbourhood’s Facebook group for the Legacy Ridge and Hardieville areas. A post appeared on the page earlier this week showing a picture of goldfish in the Legacy Ridge storm pond, prompting concern among its members.
“We want to make sure we bring attention to the neighbours that they shouldn’t be doing this,” Olsen said. “There’s been a lot of concerns with people letting their pets loose and dumping stuff into the ponds.”
It appears unwanted goldfish have been dumped into the storm pond.
Doug Kaupp, the city’s water and wastewater general manager, says he’s aware of about four other ponds in the city with the same issue, dating back two years ago.
“This is getting to be a situation that’s repeated across the province,” he said.
There’s concern the invasive swimmers could spill into the Old Man River and deplete the food sources of other fish native to the region.
“The risk is that they’ll flourish and supplant native species,” Kaupp said. “The concern with urban storm ponds is that every storm pond is directly connected to the river.”
Kaupp says illegal dumping can result in fines from $500 up to $10,000.
“The fees and penalties in the bylaw would apply to goldfish as equally as they would for antifreeze or gasoline being released, or paint being released into the storm water system.”
He advises residents who no longer want their fish to return them to the store.
Kevin Tiede, the owner of Tropical Fish Imports accepts returned fish to prevent them from being let loose or flushed down the toilet.
“We understand life changes, so if you don’t want it anymore, or if you can’t take care of it… you can actually bring the goldfish back to us and we’ll take care of it,” Tiede said. “We’ll find it a new home and if we don’t find it a new home, it can live out its days being well-fed here at the fish store.”
Kaupp says the city is working on a plan to remove the goldfish from storm ponds in the city.