MILFORD — The city’s three downtown ponds have silted up to the point where geese and ducks can seemingly walk on water.

“The last time they were dredged was over four decades ago, and it’s gotten so bad that the silt is finding its way into the harbor,” Milford Public Works Director Chris Saley said. “So we hope to begin dredging the last week of October or the first week of November.”

The Board of Aldermen last week agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to purchase about 10 acres near the transfer station to store storm debris and, more immediately, the muck that will be excavated from the three ponds — The Upper Duck Pond (also called the North Street Duck Pond), the City Hall Pond (also known as the Lower Duck Pond) and the Stonebridge Pond.

All three ponds string along the Wepawaug River, which drains into Milford Harbor.

It’s a complicated project, Mayor Benjamin Blake said, owing to the lengthy “permitting procedure,” and to environmental concerns. The contract for the project is more than 350 pages long; while much of that is legal boilerplate, a lot has to do with protection of turtles and vegetation, disposal of excavated silt, and so forth.

“We also have to test the silt in the ponds,” the mayor said. “The preliminary tests look good, so far, at any rate.”

About 15,000 cubic yards of silt will be taken away.

Officials fear, however, that the excrement from the scores of Canada geese that call those ponds home might make the dredged material sufficiently toxic to require special handling, which would add to the costs.

Saley said that although dredging ponds is expensive, “it’s far more costly to dredge the harbor.”

It’s estimated that the cost will be about $2 million, Saley said. The area near the transfer station will be used as a “de-watering” site — where pond water from the excavated material will drain off. After that, the silt will be hauled off to an “approved disposal site,” officials said.

Will the dredging project do anything to reduce the goose population in Milford? Will the machinery scare them off?

Saley shook his head.

“They’re pretty well entrenched,” he said.

A check of the City Hall Pond a few days ago revealed that there were more than 60 non-migratory Canada geese there, most of them lolling about and pretty much having their way with the city of Milford. An adult Canada goose produces about 2 to 3 pounds of poop per day, and downtown denizens have to watch their step.

City officials have tried a number of strategies over the years to reduce that population, but efforts such as getting people to stop feeding the geese, haven’t worked.

“The problem is, they have no natural enemies,” Saley said. “We really need a couple coyotes down here to take care of the situation.”

jburgeson@ctpost.com