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Wilson Tackles Slimy Problem in a Fishy Way

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A full-scale model of a grass carp
FOUNTAIN — An unwelcome visitor has slithered its way into the waste treatment centerof a small Pitt County community. Now the town of Fountain is using itsown slimy creature to fight back.

The culprit in question is duckweed-- the light green sludge often seenatop ponds. What better way to do away with the problem than with one ofthe scum's natural enemies.

Rick Matthews is used to wildlife making its home in his town's sewagetreatment pond. Bugs, bees, and even the occasional beaver seen to likethe town fountain. But a pale green plant is an unwelcome intruder.

Matthews says duckweed is a real nightmare for lagoonsthat depend on sunlight and bacteria to function. So he's calling in ascaly predator to do away with it for good-- 40 grass carp that likenothing more than to make a good dinner out of duckweed.

Matthews says the carp will eat between two and three times their own bodyweight in duckweed, and that hopefully they can get rid of theslim infesting the pond. The idearaised more than a few questions from town commissioners. But afterhearing of other success stories, they agreed to shell out about $8 per fish.

Fountain Mayor James Mercer says he and town leaders have a lot ofconfidence in Matthews, so their decision to buy the carp was an easy one.

They don't expect to see results immediately. But if the 40 fish andtheir appetites continue to grow, the town expects to see long-termresults. As long as the fish are alive, the pond should stay clean. Thatmeans about 15 years of duckweed control.

Each carp weighs abouteight to 10 ounces right now, and is expected to grow to more than twofeet long and weight up to 50 pounds.

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