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‘Very nutritious dirt:’ Oak Creek hires diving team to clean pond floors in time for spring

OAK CREEK -- As it turns out, spring cleaning isn't just for closets and cupboards. The City of Oak Creek is tackling a unique project, and it's all in an effort to clean up the environment.

Pass by Henry Miller Park in Oak Creek, and you may spot something unusual emerging from the pond. Under the surface, a pair of divers is spring cleaning -- sweeping the pond floor to remove years of built-up sediment.

Oak Creek pond cleaning

Mitchell Kohutko

"Figure this project is going to take about 56 hours," said Michael Kohutko, Organic Sediment Removal Systems Director of Operations. "You have so many toxic nutrients leaving the sediment that it's harmful to the fish."

To maintain a healthy environment, the City of Oak Creek has hired Organic Sediment Removal Systems -- a pond restoration company based out of Necedah in Central Wisconsin.

"The divers are laying down on the bottom of the pond, and they have roughly this much sediment in front of them," said Kohutko.

Oak Creek pond cleaning

Oak Creek pond cleaning

From above, all we can see is the bubbling, murky water. Down below, there's even less to look at.

"The divers see absolutely nothing," explained Kohutko. "It is zero visibility."

Using a suction system, the divers complete the task by touch.

"When they're down there, the sediment feels like whipped cream," said Kohutko.

Once the sediment is vacuumed, it travels through a hose all the way into what the team calls a geotextile tube.

Oak Creek pond cleaning

"This geo-tube is 30 feet wide and 120 feet long," said Kohutko.

Over the next several months, the sediment will dry out -- resulting in something good.

"Very nutritious dirt," said Kohutko.

The Department of Public Works plans to repurpose it for planting areas throughout the city.

"Within a month, the water should be crystal clear," said Kohutko. "Should be able to see the bottoms around the shoreline."

Divers tell FOX6 they'll be finished with the sediment removal process by next Friday.

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