Reykjavík Pond Heavily Polluted Skip to content

Reykjavík Pond Heavily Polluted

Pollution levels in the pond in central Reykjavík are well above guideline limits, according to a new report on the situation of the pond, which states that the amount of e-coli bacteria and heavy metals in the pond are far too high.

“It is a foul pit in the heart of the city,” Hilmar J. Malmquist, one of the report’s authors, told Fréttabladid.

The report, which was undertaken by the Natural History Museum of Kópavogur on the situation of the Reykjavík pond between May 2007 and April 2008, was handed in to Reykjavík City authorities yesterday.

“It is known that some of the bacterial species in the e-coli mix cause diseases,” Malmquist said. “If I had an infant and would be taking a walk past the fountain [in the pond], I would not want the wind to blow our direction.”

The high level of e-coli bacteria in the pond is traced back to bird droppings—there is a high number of birds in a small area of the pond, mainly because pedestrians give them bread—and sewage.

The sewage probably comes from the domestic airport area in the nearby Vatnsmýrin district. It is unknown whether sewage leaked into the pond by mistake or not—sewage disposal in the pond is prohibited.

The heavy metals found in the pond mainly originate from exhaust from cars that drive past it. Parts of the pollutants may however come from an old waste disposal site which is now buried underneath Hljómskálagardurinn public park.

The pollution is affecting the biosphere of the pond, most visibly though the disappearance of the reddish water plant Alternate Water-milfoil (Lat. Myriophyllum alterniflorum), which used to be common in the pond. Blue-green algae are emerging instead, making the water look muddy.

The report recommends Reykjavík City authorities improve the situation by removing the uppermost sediment of the pond, which is polluted by heavy metals, preventing sewage from leaking into the pond and limit bread-feeding to birds.

The report also recommends replanting Alternate Water-milfoil which can help reducing pollution in the pond.

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