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SOLitude Lake Management Offers Tips to Prevent Toxic Algae Blooms

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 21, 2017


Toxic AlgaeLakes, ponds and reservoirs can provide drinking water, irrigation and space for year-round recreation, but it’s common for these waterbodies to develop algae blooms, especially during the heat of the summer. While many species of pond algae are harmless, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are becoming more prevalent as a result of increased nutrient runoff from commercial developments, industrial parks, livestock farms and agricultural facilities.

When directly exposed to toxic algae species like cyanobacteria, which is often referred to as blue-green algae, humans and animals can experience liver and kidney toxicity, skin rashes, nervous system problems, respiratory complications and even death. Toxic algae blooms are also known to cause undesirable tastes and odors in drinking water from affected waterbodies. 

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Pond Management Best Practices

Nuisance Aquatic Plant Highlight: Watermeal

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 10, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Amanda Mahaney, Aquatic Biologist

Watermeal_Woes_pic1_cropped_e.jpg“What is that green scum on the surface of my pond?”

Is this a question you have asked yourself before? If so, further investigations are in order. It may not be “green scum” or pond algae after all, but rather a tiny plant called watermeal, with no roots, stems or “true” leaves. By simply rubbing this tiny, pale green plant between your fingers, it will most likely resemble cornmeal.

Watermeal prefers slow-moving or stagnant, nutrient-rich waterbodies and is frequently found among its closest relative, duckweed (Lemna spp.). Although it is commonly used as a food source and camouflage cover for wildlife, it can easily develop dense mats when proper conditions allow for it. Sunlight penetration necessary for aquatic vegetation growth and oxygen concentrations essential for the health of underwater wildlife can all be negatively affected by concentrated growth of watermeal and duckweed.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

Invasive Species Highlight: Starry Stonewort

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 30, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist and Senior Business Development Consultant

starry-stonewort-d.jpgStarry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) is a species of macroscopic green algae in the Characeae family. It was first discovered in the United States in 1978 in the St. Lawrence River, but has since spread to Michigan, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont. When the algae were first discovered in new areas, they were often misidentified as less invasive native species of macroscopic algae. However, the growth habit of starry stonewort is much more aggressive and robust, and can reach nuisance abundances. These nuisance plants can reduce the growth of desirable aquatic vegetation, reduce suitable fish habitat and cause fishing frustration. Although the algae are non-vascular and have no true plant structures, they have been found to grow as much as eight feet tall. The blooms have severe negative impacts on the habitats where they occur, and have posed unique challenges for lake managers in these areas.

Now that the presence of starry stonewort has become more familiar to lake managers, it is actually quite easy to identify. The blooms appear more “raggedy” than other macroscopic algae species, and have much greater height and biomass. They are also characterized by distinctive “starry” rhizoids, also known as bulbils, which are the reproductive structures of the pond algae. The blooms are very transient, and are subject to a “boom and bust” phenomenon where large blooms will crash suddenly and unpredictably. This can cause hazardous low dissolved oxygen conditions in the waterbodies where it occurs.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Invasive Species

Which Mechanical Option is Right for your Waterbody? Harvesting or Hydro-raking?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 15, 2017

Written by Industry Experts, Emily Walsh, Environmental Scientist, and Jeff Castellani, Director of Mechanical Operations

Mechanical-Harvesting-and-hydro-raking-e.jpgThere is rarely one specific remedy for helping restore a waterbody. Often times, restoration includes a multiyear management program encompassing a combination of aquatic management tools and techniques, such as herbicide and algaecide treatments, nutrient remediation, aeration and biological augmentation. Mechanical removal is an additional management method that may be incorporated into a restoration program, and has a number of ecological benefits including nutrient mitigation, water circulation and open water habitat restoration.

Mechanical removal encompasses two distinct management tools and approaches: aquatic weed harvesting and hydro-raking. While both provide ecological benefits, it is important to distinguish which option is better-suited for the specific management objectives of your lake or pond.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae

Five Irrigation Water Management Tips for the Golf Course Superintendent

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Mar 21, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Trent Nelson, Aquatic Specialist and former Assistant Golf Course Superintendent

Golf Course with Beneficial BufferWhether the golf season is just getting started or already in full swing, it’s important to address the growing irrigation needs of your course. Turf health is highly dependent on the irrigation source and delivery system. While there are a multitude of management techniques that dictate the amount of irrigation water needed, there are also a handful of strategies that can be used to benefit your turf and help ensure that your waterbodies remain healthy. Healthy lakes and ponds equate to superior, reliable and predictable irrigation water quality.

Conducting an audit of your irrigation system may be the best place to start when developing techniques to maximize the efficiency of your irrigation water supply. This audit should include documenting and repairing any leaking or malfunctioning irrigation heads, checking and confirming the overall output of the system, and adjusting any site specific needs for dry or wet areas by reducing or increasing the application time of these areas. In addition to conducting an audit of your irrigation system, collecting samples of your water sources and testing the water quality can help uncover any underlying water chemistry problems or nutrient imbalances.

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Topics: Water Quality/Nutrient Remediation, Aquatic Weeds and Algae

Hydro-Raking: Prolong Stormwater Pond Dredging with This Alternative

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Mar 07, 2017


AS SEEN IN Various Community Associations Institute Chapter Newsletters: Written by Industry Expert, Jeff Castellani, Director of Mechanical Operations

Every community will, at some point, be faced with implementing water quality management strategies to slow or reverse the aging process of their stormwater pond. Size of the waterbody, overall condition and available budget will determine which management options you can consider.

When a stormwater pond’s function of collecting and retaining stormwater runoff is impaired due to accumulated organic and inorganic sediment, as well as nuisance aquatic vegetative growth, physical removal of this sediment and vegetation by dredging or hydro-raking should be considered. These two management techniques are typically considered once proactive management techniques are no longer feasible or effective to manage a pond. Determining which of the two management options is right for your community will be highly dependent on the management objectives, ecological goals desired and budget.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Published Articles

Phytoplankton: Get to Know Your Pond Algae

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Feb 14, 2017

Written by Industry Expert, Chris Doyle, Water Quality Program Supervisor, Certified Lake Manager and Director of Biology

Phytoplankton, better known as algae, is present in all lakes and ponds, although we generally only become aware of it when it becomes a nuisance. These nasty, smelly filamentous mats on the surface of the water can lead to fishing frustration and reduced aesthetics, and can negatively impact recreational activities like swimming and boating. Nuisance phytoplankton can also be suspended in the water column, often called unicellular blooms. These blooms typically occur later in the season, reducing the water clarity and often giving the water a “pea soup” green appearance. They are usually associated with cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and can negatively impact water clarity and water chemistry. Cyanobacteria can also be toxic and cause serious health problems for humans and animals.

Lakes and ponds typically contain three broad categories of phytoplankton. These include filamentous phytoplankton, macroscopic multi-branched phytoplankton (which appear similar to submersed plants), and unicellular phytoplankton.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae

A Success Story: Restoring Fiske Pond Through Mechanical Harvesting

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Feb 02, 2017

Written by Industry Experts Jeff Castellani, Director of Mechanical Operations, and Emily Walsh, Environmental Scientist

3_Fisk Pond Harvester_e.jpgFiske Pond is a 67-acre waterbody located in Natick, Massachusetts within the Lake Cochituate sub-basin of the Sudbury River Watershed. Nestled in an urban area outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Fiske Pond was traditionally enjoyed by the community for recreational activities such as fishing and canoeing. Unfortunately, these leisurely activities became increasingly limited due to the dense mat of Water Chestnut (Trapa natans), an invasive aquatic plant that has proliferated since 2004. By 2008, the infestation had established a monoculture covering over 40 of the 67 acres, leading to major biological and recreational concerns. At this time, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) contacted SOLitude to initiate a management program.

Due to the competitive nature of invasive Water Chestnut, it was decided that mechanical and physical removal, via harvester and hand pulling, was the proper management approach for the removal and eventual eradication of the nuisance aquatic weed from Fiske Pond. Mechanical harvesting was an ideal management option due to the machine’s mobility and capability to remove plants from the water’s surface with minimal disturbance to the sediment below. This option was more attractive than herbicide applications because it removed the plant biomass and prevented the dense mat of vegetation from decaying, releasing nutrients back into the water column and contributing to further eutrophication of the pond.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Aquatics in Brief Newsletters

Pond Management: Ticklenaked Pond Restoration Project

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 09, 2016

AS SEEN IN Land and Water Magazine, July/August 2016: Written by Industry Expert, Dominic Meringolo, Senior Environmental Engineer & Territory Leader

Long Term Phosphorus Inactivation Improving Water Quality Using Buffered Alum

Alum_Treatment_Ticklenaked_Pond_Page_One_DS_c.jpgHow do you address the years of built up nutrients in lakes and ponds that are now fueling nuisance algal blooms that impair recreation, degrade water quality and impact aesthetics? Removing nutrient-rich sediments by dredging is one approach, but very often impractical from a financial and regulatory perspective, especially for larger waterbodies. Another successful and less disruptive technique is treatment with aluminum sulfate (alum).

Background Aluminum products, like alum, are commonly used in drinking water, wastewater and many industrial water treatment plants to remove phosphorus and suspended solids. Phosphorus is a key nutrient for algae growth and is often the limiting nutrient which controls the frequency, type and severity of nuisance blooms. The use of alum to control phosphorus in freshwater lakes, reservoirs and ponds began in the early 1970’s. To date, hundreds of lakes, reservoirs and ponds of varying sizes have been successfully treated to reduce the recycling and internal loading of phosphorus from the sediments.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Published Articles

Pond Management: What are Beneficial Bacteria?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 04, 2016

Written by Industry Expert, Shannon Junior, Senior Business Development Consultant and Aquatic Ecologist 

Lake_Wildwood_Upton_MA_fan_wort__variable_milfoil_40_acres_JOnorato_06.15_e.jpgBeneficial bacteria occur naturally in lakes and ponds, and are the microbes responsible for processing dead organic material. There are many different types of bacteria, which work in different ways to break down organic compounds. Aerobic bacteria use oxygen and rapidly break down organic compounds. Anaerobic bacteria are able to work without oxygen, but work much more slowly. Both types of bacteria produce enzymes that allow them to break down organic compounds and take them into their cells as nutrients. Many bacteria also perform denitrification, transforming nitrate into nitrogen gas and removing it from the pond system. They can also convert soluble phosphorus from the water column into calcium phosphate and calcium iron phosphate, which are insoluble minerals that are not available to most types of pond algae.

Since the bacteria convert nutrients into unavailable forms, they can be beneficial in reducing nuisance algae blooms in lakes and ponds. In fresh water, phosphorus is generally the limiting nutrient for algal growth. The ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus determines the types of algae that will grow and thrive in a pond. In situations where there is excess phosphorus, nuisance species of filamentous and bluegreen algae (cyanobacteria) will dominate the waterbody instead of the beneficial planktonic green algae that form the base of the food web. The bacteria themselves can also contribute to the food web, becoming a food source for zooplankton and benthos, which then become food for fish and other organisms.

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Topics: Aquatic Weeds and Algae, Biological Augmentation

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