AS SEEN IN Quorum Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist and Senior Business Development Consultant
There are numerous reasons why a homeowner’s association would hire a professional company to do certain jobs rather than having the work done “in-house” by members of the community. It may be that the task requires technical expertise or special training, and there may not be residents qualified to perform the service. Or perhaps the nature of the job would require extensive manpower or specialized equipment. But let’s face it—sometimes the job is just so unpleasant that no one from the community would be willing to do it.
Welcome to a day in the life of a lake and pond manager. Our job requires all that was noted above - education and technical certification, physical exertion, training with specialized equipment, and yes, the willingness to perform services that others might find objectionable. One of the necessary tasks performed by our aquatic specialists is the application of herbicides and other products used for water quality management. In every state where we work, pesticide applicators are required to receive extensive training and to pass an examination prior to receiving a license to apply the products. And while all of the substances that we apply to the waterbodies that we manage are completely safe for humans, wildlife, and the environment when used according to the product label, many of the products do require that personal protective equipment (PPE) is used by the applicator when handling the products at full strength, and during the mixing and application process. Although there is increasing concern from the public regarding the use of pesticides, the process is very safe for the aquatic ecosystem when the appropriate product is selected and applied properly by an experienced licensed technician.
I never imagined that working as an ecologist would involve so much manual labor and heavy lifting, but that’s part of the job. Installing fountains and aeration systems requires digging trenches and backfilling to bury conduit, power cables, and air tubing. The typical herbicide jugs and bags that we portage can weigh 30 to 40 pounds, and a backpack sprayer full of mixed product weighs even more. Loading and unloading a 100-pound Jon boat on and off the roof racks a dozen times in a day is not for the faint of heart. We try to make it look easy, but I’ve had chivalrous homeowners offer to help me on numerous occasions!
As much as our clients need us because of our expertise, abilities, and technological aptitude, there are just as many times that we are hired because no one else wants to do some of the things that we do. We clean up trash from ponds, clear debris from clogged pipes and weirs, and manually harvest algae and aquatic vegetation in areas where herbicides can’t be used. Perhaps the worst part of our job is wildlife removal, especially when the animals we are removing from the water have been dead for several days. There are few events more devastating to a community than a fish kill in the local recreational lake or stormwater management pond, and cleaning up the dead fish is not a fun task. These incidents happen most frequently during the middle of the summer in
In an effort to work smarter instead of harder, we rely heavily on technology and the specialized tools of our trade to make our work easier. But we are no strangers to stinky pond muck, watersnakes, leeches, and toxic algae blooms. We work outside even when the weather doesn’t cooperate with our plans, and we often find ourselves picking up trash in the rain or busting through the ice to unclog a fountain. Some of our days are long, uncomfortable, and very, very dirty. But other days, we float around on clear blue lakes, surveying fish populations and collecting water quality data. We travel to remote places and have the opportunity to view unique habitats and wildlife. We transform neglected stormwater ponds into healthy and beautiful community amenities. We meet new people
There have been a lot of times that I have been approached by strangers while I’m working. They see my truck, my boat, and my gear, and they ask what I do. After a brief conversation, they almost always say, “Wow, it sounds like you have a really cool job.” And even on the dirtiest days, I have to agree.
Originally published in the April 2017 issue of Quorum Magazine by Community Associations Institute Washington Metro.
Shannon Junior is an Aquatic Ecologist and Senior Business Development Consultant who has worked in the lake and pond management industry since 2000 and has extensive experience with Integrated Pest Management strategies for nuisance vegetation control. Shannon has managed projects involving all facets of lake management, including ecological assessment, fisheries enhancement, aeration, aquatic landscaping, structural inspection/repairs, and dredging.SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing