By Melissa Garcia
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Ducks are dying at Exposition Park in Aurora and nearby residents were concerned for their safety. City officials, however, were not aware of any issue that could be causing the die-off.
“To be honest, it smells like straight sewage,” said Anthony Ross, a conservationist who lives in the area.
“Wildlife is dying. There’s something going on in there,” Ross said of the ponds in the park.
Ross, who just moved to the area, took photos of dead ducks that he found near the water in the last week.
“Five total now,” Ross said.
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia and photojournalist Mark Neitro went to the park on Tuesday and spotted three more dead ducks.
Ross said that the trash, stench, and dead animals in the ponds have him worried.
“The community should have a safe and clean place to bring their families,” Ross said.
Officials confirmed that the city uses the pond water to water the park’s grass.
“I don’t want my kids running through that,” commented Ross. “It doesn’t seem too healthy. I got some splashed on my skin, and it started burning.”
The city tests the park water periodically and had not seen an increase in toxins.
“We have not seen any increase in any contaminants in the water that would be a concern to that point,” said Greg Baker, a spokesperson for Aurora Water.
In addition to being a place of recreation and wildlife, Expo Park has a vital purpose as a storm drainage collection area.
Back in 2013, heavy rains flooded the park. And that’s exactly what the city designed it for.
“The intention behind that is, the water has to go someplace in an urban environment. It’s better it come here where we can control it than into the houses that are frankly just on the border of this park,” Baker said.
“I think (the city) has good intentions. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much they can do in the way of street-side trash in the drainage, the way it’s set up,” said Chad Huartson, who goes to the park every other day to play disc golf.
After the number of dead birds found in the park recently, Baker said that the city would be looking into the issue to try to determine what could be causing the die-off.
It was unknown if the cause could be a disease spread from one bird to another, or something else that was making the birds sick.