Bexar’s Eye: Eden Duck Pond Is Poised to Return to Its Former Glory

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A duck sits on top of a rock inside Eden Duck Pond.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A muscovy duck stands on top of a rock in Eden Duck Pond, which is almost completely dry.

Photographs of Eden Duck Pond from past years illustrate a thriving body of water with spirited wildlife. Today, large puddles of rainwater rest atop a vast surface of cracked clay where the pond once flourished. Waterfowl gather around plastic blue kiddie pools placed and replenished by Eden residents.

“Last year our pond went dry,” said Eden Homeowners Association President Myrtle Parks.

The pond sits adjacent to Thousand Oaks Drive; a roadside sign pleads passers-by to donate to the Eden Duck Pond’s GoFundMe page to help pay for its restoration.

The man-made pond, about half the size of an Olympic swimming pool, has no natural source of water. There is no natural way to detox or refresh the water other than replenish it from the San Antonio Water System. Membership in the homeowners association is completely voluntary, and annual dues – $50 per year with 200 members total – were not enough to pay for the expensive SAWS invoices before the pond eventually dried out. Parks said, “Our water bills were going up to $700 a month.”

This graph shows Eden Duck Pond's water use in gallons each month.

Courtesy / Eden Home Owners Association

This graph shows Eden Duck Pond’s water use in gallons each month.

Residents of Eden have long struggled with issues related to the pond, such as erosion, algae, and overpopulation of turtles and non-native waterfowl; however, in July, water depletion became the primary concern. Parks said, “We called a pond specialist who said we had a cracked layer in our bentonite clay liner. It was devastating to us.”

The association decided to let the pond dry out completely and then start from scratch to create a pond that could thrive economically and environmentally.

Engineer and designer Troy Ellison of Outer Spaces of Texas, who helped Parks with a previous personal project, was completely on board with this plan. Ellison does not live in the Eden neighborhood, but he knew about the pond before interacting with Parks. “It’s iconic. You tell someone about the duck pond at Thousand Oaks and they know it,” he said.

Ellison said the pond occupies 15,000 square feet. The pond’s depth is just over 3 feet and holds about 336,000 gallons. Ellison said, “We needed to find the highest volume with the lowest surface area to reduce the evaporative loss. That’s the goal. Aesthetically it has to work too.”

Ellison presented his designs, pending engineering oversight, to the Eden Homeowners Association, which approved them.

A draft of Eden Duck Pond pending engineering oversight.

Courtesy / Outer Spaces of Texas

A draft of the Eden Duck Pond restoration pending engineering oversight.

The association has surpassed its GoFundMe goal of $35,000, even though the page states only half the funds have been raised. The rest of the donations were given directly to the association from local businesses.

The money is enough to start with the restoration, but both Park and Ellison believe more money will flow in once the work begins. “We’re going to start on good faith and go as far as we can. It wouldn’t take much to close that gap [between funds raised and the total cost],” Ellison said.

Ellison is going to begin as soon as the ground is completely dry. “When one works in a hole, one must wait for dry weather,” he said.

Parks, 71, also corresponded with Texas Parks and Wildlife Urban Biologist Jessica Alderson to understand the pond’s ecosystem.

The Eden Duck Pond when it was filled with water.

Courtesy / Myrtle Parks

Eden Duck Pond was once filled with water and teeming with wildlife.

Upon visiting the pond, Alderson noticed immediately that it was overpopulated. Too many animals occupying a small area is never positive. There is more risk of disease, more fighting, and more competition between the species, Alderson said. Before the pond was completely dry, ducklings were being eaten by turtles. Alderson also noted that quite a few of the birds had angel wing, a common syndrome that signals malnourishment in urban areas where birds are fed harmful foods such as bread.

Alderson also observed that most of the waterfowl on site were non-native ducks and geese. She said, “My recommendation as a biologist was to remove all the non-native species and euthanize them. They are taking away from the natural habitat and competing with migratory birds and native species.”

Euthanizing the waterfowl was unsettling for Parks and other neighbors. They wanted to find another solution. “We have to keep our ducks and try to control their population. Our people have a great appreciation for the waterfowl. We have to come to a balance,” Parks said.

Alderson is understanding and positive.

“People have high emotional attachments to these animals,” she said, noting the pond could be a great water resource for migratory species using it for a stopover habitat. “There’s a lot of good that can come from the liner crack. [Eden residents] could make it something even better than they already have if they do the right planning and promote native plants. Making the pond deeper will help with water quality. Improving natural vegetation will help.”

In the meantime, neighbors and the surrounding community are excited for the construction to begin. Jimi Khoh, owner of Massage Solutions, is not an Eden resident but has lived about 2 miles from the pond for nearly 20 years.

“[The pond is] like an oasis in this neighborhood,” he said. “I fell in love with it. I bring my friends there. I was devastated when the pond dried up and offered to help.”

Khoh gave the association four $70 gift certificates for its silent auction and volunteered to give chair massages during their fundraising events and donate the tips to the cause.

Regardless of what happens, Ellison said, “I’m glad people are taking interest in it. I’m humbled by it all. I just dig ditches for a living.”

Information regarding the Eden Pond Preserve and its wildlife is displayed in a case next to the pond.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Information about Eden Pond Preserve and its wildlife is displayed in a case next to the dried-up pond.

10 thoughts on “Bexar’s Eye: Eden Duck Pond Is Poised to Return to Its Former Glory

  1. Unfortunately, you cannot get people to stop feeding the animals. Doesn’t really matter if they are native or not. Taking corn and other food and lining the banks of the pond is what contributed to this situation, not assisting. But you cannot talk any sense into these types of individuals. Waterfowl will destroy the native plants required to filtrate the pond water. Most of the existing waterfowl are also inbred. Euthanasia would would be the best thing for them. It can be a beautiful place again, but not while certain people are around feeding the wildlife. Ruining it for not only everyone who has ever enjoyed the pond, but also the affected domestic/exotic animals and native wildlife, as well. Thanks.

  2. The volunteers associated with the Eden Homeowners Association have worked for months to find a balanced and affordable solution. Thank you for this article recognizing their efforts.

  3. HORRIBLE place for a duck pond. Especially when the people who claim to be the ones in charge or taking care will NOT do so. We own a business by this pond. We see dead wildlife DAILY! from that pond. Currently we have a momma duck and ELEVEN of her babies displaced over by our business due to a new fence going up. We have reached to everyone we can INCLUDING the facebook page of the pond…whoever runs it has acknowledged our concern, but has made it clear they are not going to do anything about. Not even attempt to do anything. The misplaced ducks are in sewer water to top things off. I personally feel ALL these animals need to be re-homed to where they are SUPPOSED to be….the WILD not off of busy Thousand Oaks in the seventh largest city in the US.

    • It’s too bad that this business won’t help but add to the problem by trying to pin ownership of wildlife to a volunteer HOA. It’s also terrible that all they do is sit and watch instead of taking steps to resolve an issue they are clearly upset about. Why not remove one of the boards so the ducks can wander free?? I guess it’s easier to point fingers than actually help. Must not be a very good business either.

      • We are not going to remove a picket of a fence that belongs to someone else. Vandalizing property??? I do not think so. Thank you anyway. We have FAR from sat and watched this go on. We have contacted everyone we know to contact and tried to keep them fresh water since they are swimming in sewage (which we ALSO brought to the people running the EDENDUCK POND facebook). We are not pointing fingers we are simply saying…..if they want a duck pond and claim to love these ducks then why are we brushed under the rug when we let them know that a long time Momma and ELEVEN of her babies are stuck. Not only did we get NO help we were basically told oh well. With that being said it goes with my point of this pond is a HORRIBLE idea, in a HORRIBLE place. Those ducks need to go somewhere where they will not be getting ran over. We see ducks dead DAILY from getting ran over as well other turtles and wildlife. Volunteers are just that VOLUNTEERS they know what they are signing up for and put on they care so much for pond and have NO issue raising $18,000 but when someone needs them to actually do something they won’t even offer to go look at the issue. Say what you want …. putting on that they take care of, run, organize events around, raise thousands of dollars for and claim to LOVE sooo much this duck pond, but then when someone lets them know there are a big group of baby ducks stuck somewhere they don’t even say “Oh well let us take a look.” They tell us oh well there is nothing we can do…..that is crappy and sad to say the least.

  4. If you put in a fence to stop people from trespassing all you need to do is notch out a small section on bottom of your fence so the ducks can go back to the pond. The danger from traffic in trying to move them is much worse. Your fence is blocking their way so make a passage. 5 minutes and done.

    • We did not put the fence up. The people who own the property that a decent size business building is on put the fence up. I am not in the business of vandalizing property or I would trust me 🙁

      • Also I really do not think a hole in the fence is a good idea. The fence will help keep them contained closer to the pond. The further they can get from the pond (unless by some miracle someone can get them to a REAL pond where they can thrive and be safe) the more danger they can get into.

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