If you fished or walked around Green Valley Park lakes recently you have probably noticed bright yellow and green algae clinging to the edges.
With the seasonal changes and weather, it's not uncommon for GVP to acquire algae. The ecosystem of the lakes is made up of a delicate balance between algae and lake weed.
"The algae provide food and the lake weed provide habitat for the fish and other creatures, so not all algae is bad. Each attribute to the ecology and the appearance (of the lakes)," said Rick Manchester, Payson Parks and Recreation director.
It is only natural that the lakes contain algae, however, the startling surface growth has drawn attention and complaints from town residents.
For some, the floating clumps of algae are an eyesore. Many wonder why the lakes are not maintained and the algae left to grow.
GVP lakes serve multiple functions and demand a level of precise care.
"GVP was designed as a groundwater recharge program and also serves as a public park," said Karen Probert, Water Quality Specialist for the town.
As the water filters out of the lakes, it soaks into the ground where it is collected into the town's aquifer.
The water pumped out of the aquifer is used as drinking water. Because it is used as a water resource, the town's water department manages the care and responsibilities of the lakes and does not use chemicals to treat the water, Probert said.
Through the years, the Payson Water Department has experimented with several methods of keeping the lakes clean and maintaining the purity of the town's drinking water.
The water department's goals for GVP are to minimize sludge and to maximize the amount of water that goes into the water recharge program.
The water department uses organic products and methods that help enhance nature's natural processes, Probert said.
The three plans in use to maintain the lakes are the use of AB product (a bacteria and enzyme mix), a pontoon boat with a hydraulic rake attached, and the recent introduction of the white amur fish.
The AB product has been used since 2001. It is a special mix of bacteria and enzyme that breaks down fish waste.
"It takes a full year to test a product. We had tested over a dozen products including organic treatments, but none worked as well as the current product," Probert said.
The hydraulic rake is an effective substitution for chemical products. The pontoon boat supports and maneuvers the rake to scrape off and remove the sludge accumulated at the bottom of the lake.
The white amur fish were purchased to feed on vegetation and reduce the growth of algae. Fifteen fish were purchased costing $1,000.
Signs are posted around GVP to distinguish the fish. "If one is caught, please release it," Probert said.
Each year offers different challenges and with it new ideas to test, Probert said.
Rented equipment, such as the Solar Bee Circulator, was tested to help eliminate the sludge. "It seems to be working okay, but we're going to remove it due to complaints, said Probert. The results are not as dramatic as we thought they would be.