Cuddy Park Water Quality Monitoring Activities

Introduction

Cuddy Family Midtown Park, or “Cuddy Park”, is a municipal park located in Anchorage, Alaska, between Denali and A Streets, south of 36th Avenue and north of Tudor Road, adjacent to the Z. J. Loussac Library. The park covers 19.5 acres and provides opportunities for speed-skating in winter, walking trails in summer, picnicking, gathering for social events and a wheelchair-accessible playground. The Municipality of Anchorage purchased the first parcel of property for a midtown park in 1987 and additional properties were added in 1988 and 2000. The park was first opened in 1995 and the playground was installed in 2013. During the same time period, the Municipality of Anchorage (MoA) determined that a need for flood control in the midtown area could be addressed if 11.5 acre-feet of water storage was made available to absorb flood flows in high water periods. HDR Engineering and the MoA raised the possibility of combining the park effort with the flood control project. The proposal was accepted and Fish Creek, with a course that historically runs through what is now midtown Anchorage, was “daylighted” within Cuddy Park, forming three separate ponds; actually part of a slow-moving waterway, that provide for the required flood control measure. It was anticipated during the planning of the ponds within Cuddy Park that waterfowl-human interactions might present a problem and measures were put into the plan to mitigate excessive waterfowl congregation at the ponds. Unfortunately, funds ran short for installing natural vegetation barriers that would discourage contact between waterfowl and humans and deter waterfowl nesting. Over time, waterfowl presence at the Cuddy Park Ponds has increased, creating the current situation.

Water Quality Summary

The presence of many birds in a small area with low rates of water exchange has made this a water quality issue. Fish Creek is already on the list of impaired waters for fecal coliform and the waterfowl overpopulation at the Cuddy Park Ponds has caused a thousand-fold increase in the bacteria levels in the ponds.

Recent Actions

Through the ACWA grant process, the Anchorage Waterways Council began an outreach campaign to teach Anchorage residents about the negative outcomes of feeding wild waterfowl and emphasizing the positive aspects of keeping wild birds wild. The Anchorage Waterways Council contracted with the staff of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Outdoor Recreation to design signs about the benefits of not feeding wild birds. The signs were put into place in June, 2016. Additional signs were shown on People Mover buses in Anchorage and have received many favorable reviews.

The DEC continues to use public outreach, as well as other management practices to discourage crowding of the Cuddy Park ponds by wild waterfowl and thereby reducing the levels of fecal coliform in the Cuddy Park ponds.

Contact

Jeanne Swartz
555 Cordova St
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-7523
Email: Jeanne.Swartz@alaska.gov