City councilwomen team up with Jacksonville leaders, DCPS, JFRD to warn community of dangers of retention ponds

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two recent deaths in Jacksonville retention ponds have sparked two city councilors to make changes.

Ju’Coby Pittman and LeAnna Cumber plan to warn the community about the dangers of the ponds.

The death of former NFL and Jags football player Louis Nix shook the community when his body was pulled from a retention pond in late February.

Then in April, another tragedy struck with the drowning of five-year-old Mohamad Nour.

“We’re seeing children drown in these ponds needlessly,” Cumber said.

She and Pittman want to put an end to the tragedies.

Cumber tells Action News Jax it’s a project two years in the making.

The council women met with the city’s fire department and DCPS Monday, brainstorming how to get the word out.

The city manages 256 retention ponds, which are used to hold storm water. But city and school leaders worry that kids see the ponds as an opportunity for fun.

“It’s just critical to get the word out that these retention ponds are not for swimming, they’re not for playing, they’re not for fishing,” Cumber added.

Now, with $125,000 dollars budgeted, Cumber and Pittman are starting an awareness campaign.

“It really is going to take the whole community,” Cumber said.

DCPS superintendent Diana Greene shared plans to warn families at all of its schools’ open houses at the beginning of the school year.

Greene says there are some retention ponds near DCPS’ schools.

“Our retention ponds are generally fenced in,” Greene said.

JFRD’s fire chief shared plans for a public demonstration showing how dangerous the ponds are, and how hard it is to get out of them.

He says many of the ponds can have dangerous wildlife like alligators in them, unsanitary water with brain-eating amoebas, and steep drops of up to 20 feet. Pittman and Cumber plan to develop an action plan based off the recommendations from the JFRD and DCPS.