Jodi Taylor said her husband, Rob, and 7-year-old daughter, Morgan, tried to go fishing in Springlake Pond on May 19.
"This is what they found," she said, showing photos on her cellphone of dead fish in the trash-and-weed-filled water. "My daughter was in tears."
Taylor joined more than 20 area residents of the Springlake community in Lutherville-Timonium at a public meeting on Wednesday at Dulaney High School, where Baltimore County officials said they would try to clean up the roughly 1-acre pond, but made no promises and said they weren't sure what was causing its problems.
"There's no easy solution," said Vincent Gardina, director of the county's Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability.
Gardina, a former Baltimore County councilman, said pollutants including runoff from upstream, are suspected culprits in the apparent ill health of the pond, where Taylor said she saw dozens of dead fish May 19, including koi and bass.
"You do have stormwater running from the streets into that pool," which also sits below a stream, Gardina said.
Gardina also said mealweed and duckweed both grow in the pond and are aquatic plants common to "still" ponds with no moving water. The weeds are not harmful, but when they die and decompose, they remove oxygen from the water, he said.
And Gardina said there is evidence that people in the neighborhood and upstream are dumping grass clippings into the stream and in storm drains.
Possible county environmental projects to reduce the problems include restoration of the stream and dredging of the pond, both of which might be eligible for stormwater remediation funding from the county's rain tax.
Gardina said he would look into that, but, "I can't promise," and noted that such projects are designed to improve urban streams. He also said the pond may be a victim of "too many pollutants that you can't control."
The county had discussed dredging the pond as far back as the 1980s, said longtime resident Kerry Agathoklis, former president of the Springlake Community Association.
Barry Williams, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks, was at the meeting and said he would try to clean the pond of trash and debris. He also said he would look into fixing lights nearby and replacing the trash cans that residents said used to be there.
Also attending the meeting were State Sen. Jim Brochin,of the 42nd District, who organized it, and 3rd District County Councilman Wade Kach, who helped lead it. Wade promised to work with county officials and said, "We'll see what we can do."
As for people dumping grass clippings into the stream and storm drains, one resident suggested putting up "No Dumping" signs.
"I think that's a good idea, especially if it shows what the fine is," Brochin said.
The pond is natural, probably built by a farmer before the residential area was developed in the 1950s or 60s, and is not a stormwater pond related to development, Gardina said. However, he said stormwater and water drainage may be getting into the pond.
The pond is in the county-owned Springlake Park, located near Longview Golf Club and Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, and is bounded by Pot Spring and Girdwood roads on the east; Padonia, Harcroft and Eastridge roads on the west; Chantry Road on the south; and Tyburn Court on the north. The Sun in a 1998 story called the picturesque community "suburbia personified."
But residents at the meeting said the pond has looked grungier and more shallow in recent years, and some wonder if runoff from the golf course and other properties are hurting the pond.
"We're getting everybody's runoff," said 15-year resident Debbie Bowden, a real estate agent. She said the pool is a turnoff when she tries to sell homes in the area.
"It affects sales," she said.
Resident Mark Duerr said he and his late father used to fish for bass in the pond, but he doesn't anymore, because of the surface of the water.
"It's a green sheet," he said.