ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Ponds across Orange County that some people use for fishing have become dumping grounds and the problem is forcing the county to shut off access to them, 9 Investigates found out.
County leaders said it's been a problem for years and got worse after Hurricane Irma.
Homeowner Patrick McDaniel said he just wants to be able to fish in Lake Dwarf.
“This last bunch that was over here had couches, sinks, toilets, furniture,” McDaniel said. “They dumped it right on the county property.”
Dwarf Lake, which is actually a retention pond, is in the middle of a quiet, established Pine Hills neighborhood nestled near Power Drive and North Lane, where people like McDaniel and his wife bought homes more than 30 years ago.
The retention pond is full of fish that allow McDaniel to enjoy his hobby just a few feet from his backyard.
“When I moved to Florida, I didn't want to move to a home that didn't have water behind it. With my budget, this is all I could afford,” McDaniel said.
But the view and Dwarf Lake access that came with that home purchase are now gone.
County leaders said they were forced to put up a fence around the retention pond because of too much illegal dumping.
“We don't know who it is. We've never caught anyone. Several times we found dumpsters on the property,” said public works coordinator Jeff Charles.
The county has also been dealing with an illegal dumping problem at retention ponds in the Bithlo and Taft neighborhoods.
McDaniel sits on both sides of the fence; while he was frustrated by the illegal dumping he also fears what the lack of access may mean for children who hang out here to stay out of trouble.
“I want the kids to be able to have someplace to go. Now, if they got to fish, not sure where they're going to go. Depends on what side of fence you're on and which day,” he said.
It costs the county extra to clean up the mess.
Charles said the county tried for years to avoid a fence, even asking for deputies to patrol at night and installing no-trespassing signs, but nothing helped.
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