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Reality Check: Who's responsible for cleaning detention pond?

A local woman wants a dirty pond next to the Swannanoa River cleaned up. But the effort has proven harder than expected. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A local woman wants a dirty pond next to the Swannanoa River cleaned up. But the effort has proven harder than expected.

Kat Taylor comes to River Bend Park to search for plants.

"I scout around looking for different edible plants, so I saw that there are some really big poplars here," Taylor said. "Poplars are known to have morels."

In the spring, she found something else.

"I was flabbergasted and really disappointed," Taylor said of the debris she found.

It's still there, toward the end of the park where there's a fence.

"This is it, all in here," she said.

What's inside sent Taylor on a search for answers.

"Tons and tons of Styrofoam cups. There's so much sludge and debris," she said.

The sight worries Taylor because the Swannanoa River is nearby and she doesn't want any of the debris getting into the river.

"We have a job to be stewards of this planet," Taylor said.

However, Asheville GreenWorks operations director Eric Bradford said the system works. The detention pond is designed to trap things, he explained.

"Things from this detention pond, like this Styrofoam cup here, are not going to make its way into the river," he said.

What gets inside the fence includes runoff and debris from the adjacent Walmart parking lot.

"It's an ugly job. It doesn't look great, but it is actually doing what it's supposed to do," Bradford said of the pond.

Even so, Taylor wants the mess cleaned up.

"It's disgusting."

But there's no simple answer for who's responsible for the cleanup. The area is in a public park, but the fence makes it appear separate.

Walmart placed an order for the area to be cleaned, however, a spokesperson said the company is working with the city of Asheville to figure out who owns the pond and who is responsible for maintaining it.

The spokesperson said paying for the cleanup now does not mean Walmart declares ownership of the pond.

A spokesperson for the city said Walmart owns the land and is responsible for its maintenance.

As that gets sorted out, Taylor said people have a responsibility not to litter.

"People have a tendency not to dislike the environment, but to be lazy if they have the option," she said. "It's not out of malice. It's just out of not really wanting to walk that extra 20 feet."

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