This is how animals are rescued in Reinheimer Teich

Reinheimer Teich rescue mission: Jan Boehmann, a building yard worker, supplies oxygen to the water body by sucking water from a pond and pumping it back.
(Photo: Ursula Friedrich)

Rheinheim – The city is upset. The discovery of several dead catfish, some 1.50 meters in length, in the previous week led to a rescue mission: in the Reinheimer Teich, the heart of a 75-hectare nature reserve, the building yard and the fire brigade are stationary. Used with equipment to help nature.

Heat, lack of precipitation, and dryness of the streams lead to a series of deadly consequences for the environment. Home to several worthy conservation fauna, including 250 species of endangered European bird and tortoise, the jewel Reinheimer Tech has become a hostile habitat in some parts. “We have to save the animals” – the credo of Reinheim Mayor Manuel Fick on Thursday afternoon is as simple as that.

High pH value and high pollution levels

Mission summary: On August 18, 30-40 large carp, catfish and waterfowl were discovered. “The animals have been dead for at least a week,” says commissioned expert Rainer Hennings of Fishcalc (Office of Fisheries and Aquatic Environment Advisory), who was immediately alerted by the city. The expert took water samples. The gist: the higher the pH value, the higher the levels of pollution, including ammonia.

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Hundreds of birds, geese, ducks, herons, and storks rest around the pond – which dries up in beach areas. The water level has dropped by about 60 cm and many areas are only a few centimeters deep. “I can’t go out in the boat anymore,” says Rainer Hennings, who returned to the site – and pulled a dead mallard duck out of the water. The consequences of the summer of 2022 are fatal. Not only large fish, but also waterfowl are now dying, how difficult it is to estimate their number.

Serious disruption to the ecosystem

“The above-ground Reinheim pond is fed only by the Langengraben – which dried up in June,” explains Gerd Fischer of the Office of Public Order and Environment in Rheinheim. Underground artesian springs no longer supply either. The groundwater level has decreased. The heat led to strong evaporation and heated the water to nearly 30 degrees – massive algal growth, favored by its nutrient richness, seriously upset the ecosystem.

“Firefighters are pumping water into the pond,” says a dog owner who happily follows the rescuers’ activities — a fallacy. “We’re bringing oxygen into the water,” Jan Bohmann explains. The building yard worker brings the equipment into position as one tries to help nature. The principle is simple: water is absorbed and then sprayed back and enriched with oxygen through this process.

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The city provides staff to ensure this work around the clock: during the week, the building yard takes care of the project, on weekends and in the evenings, firefighters, according to the mayor, are angry. Although the city is the owner, Darmstadt Regional Council (RP) is responsible for the nature reserve. Because the state authority did not act despite the alarming situation, the city took the initiative.

Hopefully next week

Vic demands: “We are acting decisively, but those responsible should also join in.” Hennings comments on Rheinheim’s rapid intervention with the phrase “typical”, as the appraiser was officially commissioned by the RP. What is lacking is the necessary ventilation devices. The three samples belonging to the state of Hesse are in use at Altrhein near Lamberthem – “It’s worse there,” says Hennings.

He hopes to have three machines in operation at Rheinheim as of next week. This should be done with a sense of proportion, because the next danger lies in the mud. The receding water creates larger and larger areas of mud on the bank, where deadly bacteria multiply. The result is bacterial infections, which also lead to the death of waterfowl throughout the food chain. An examination of the body available to the veterinary office should show if this is the case.

Read also: How do fish die in Reinheim Pond

“We’ve never seen anything comparable here,” says Fritz Vornoff, director of the nature reserve area, who has known the area for decades. He doesn’t even want to accept the dead duck, there are enough dead animals in the veterinary office for the autopsy. Individual birds, pelicans and Egyptian geese have been in agony for several days – it would be speculation whether this was a direct result of the threatened ecosystem at Reinheimer Teich. Expert Hennings, still putting his boat in the water at a deeper point, can at least make a smaller, lively fish: “They need less oxygen.” Devices must work around the clock. “With a sense of proportion,” said Mayor Vick, so as not to stir up the deadly slime.

This article was originally published on September 3, 2022 at 3:00 am.

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