A year ago it was one of the dirtiest waterways in Anchorage, but now the pond at Cuddy Family Park in midtown Anchorage may be as clean as it’s ever been.


Thom Northon with the Anchorage Waterways Council has been measuring fecal coliform rates for two years at the park. Last August, a sample taken from the middle of the pond showed a fecal coliform rate of 8,000 colonies per 100ml. That’s considered extremely high, according to Northon. But this Monday, he got results that surprised him even more — the rate had dropped to just 230 colonies.


“I was shocked when I got the results,” Northon said. “I had to look at it three times, it was so dramatic.”


Alaska Department of Conservation spokeswoman Jeanne Swartz believes a public awareness campaign is making a difference. She said the $50,000 campaign included money to make signs for buses and the park itself that warn about the problems of attracting too many birds by feeding them.


“It’s not good for the birds, it’s not good for the water quality and it just generally degrades the park experience for a lot of people,” Swartz explained.


The money also covered new vegetation that was planted around the banks of the pond to act as a natural buffer. Swartz said the temporary fencing is also helping to maintain a distance between people, the pond and waterfowl.


Both Swartz and Northon believe there are fewer birds congregating at the park and say the evidence can be seen in both the water and on the ground. The pathway around the pond is clear and the grass is cleaner as well. On a recent bright afternoon families were gathered to watch the geese and ducks but there was no sign of anyone feeding them.


KTVA 11's Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.