Should You Prep Your Lake and Permanent Dock for Winter?
Most lake and pond owners spend most of their time around their water resources in the spring, summer, and early fall. The warm weather lends well to kayaking, fishing, boating, swimming, and other activities that make the waterbody a true focal point in a community or homeowners association. When well maintained, lakes and ponds can be amazing assets that help raise property values and make a residential area more desirable to homeowners.
The Risk of Not Preparing Your Docks for Winter
What many stakeholders don’t realize is that lakes and ponds need year-round maintenance to remain in peak condition. One of the most important aspects of an annual management program is preparing your waterbody for the cooler months through winterization. This includes the removal, maintenance services, and storage of floating fountains, but doesn’t stop there. Several expensive risks can occur if you fail to properly prepare and winterize your permanent docks and marinas during the colder months, including:
- Warping of your dock
- Breaking and structural damage of your docks
- Mechanical and structural damage to docked boats
De-Icing Solutions for Docks
Of course, it is not enough to simply place a couple of de-icers along your docks or boats in hopes of preventing ice growth. There are several types of de-icers, such as surface aerator/agitator de-icers and submersed aerators/bubble de-icers. Each one operates in specific levels of water, covers certain diameters, and requires different amounts of maintenance. Surface aerators, for example, prevent ice formation by agitating and circulating water on the surface. Submersed aerators/bubblers, on the other hand, release bubbles from the bottom of the waterbody, which disrupt the surface water as they rise to the surface.
Check Local Regulations Before Installing A De-Icing Solution
Without keeping in mind the goals of de-icing, the size of the lake, the size of the area you should be de-icing, the aquatic conditions of the lake, local laws and required permits that may affect de-icing operations, and the wintertime use of the lake, your ‘solution’ could result in hazardous conditions. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Thin ice that’s dangerous for winter users of the lake
- Greater ice damage during spring melts
- Negative, long-term impacts to the beneficial plants and aquatic life
Improperly installing or choosing the wrong de-icing plan can have not only expensive ramifications, but potentially dangerous ones, including endangerment to residents. It is best to have an experienced team that understands your goals and is committed to helping you maximize the use and longevity of your docks, boats, and water resources.
Success Story: What De-Icing Should Look Like for A Permanent Dock
A lake management partner keeps many factors in mind when creating a custom-designed equipment solution to most effectively protect your waterbody’s permanent docks, as well as see through the initial system installation and annual maintenance.
In 2019, after Lake Michigan reached record water levels, SOLitude’s aquatic experts solved a very complex de-icing challenge for a unique waterfront community and the marina on its shore. This particular community contained homes that hung directly over the water, each supported by four 10 ft. pilings secured in bedrock. Given the high water levels of the lake, these shoreline homes and their permanent docks had become highly susceptible to ice damage in the winter.
In partnership with leading manufacturers, our aquatic experts custom-designed a complete de-icing system that included 72 compressor cabinets, 600 diffuser heads, and nearly 25,000 feet of tubing. The system worked flawlessly through the winter months to bring deeper, warmer water to the surface and prevent a hard freeze all winter long with minimized effects to the lake’s ecosystem.
Readiness for Lakefront Winter Planning
Winter provides an excellent window of time to revisit your lake or pond management approach and think about your priorities for the coming year. A professional can be an excellent resource to evaluate your goals and help you develop a clear roadmap to achieve them. An aquatic expert can also help you implement other wintertime solutions to help support the health and aesthetic appeal of your waterbody come spring. These include winter shoreline restoration projects and mechanical hydro-raking or dredging to remove plant debris and accumulation from the bottom of the waterbody.
As a lake or pond owner, you deserve to see your waterbody at its best. Get started with winter planning today so you can focus on enjoying your water resources when warm weather returns.
Achieve the Clean, Beautiful Water You Deserve
SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty and preserve natural resources.
SOLitude’s team of aquatic scientists specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs. Services include water quality testing and restoration, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, shoreline erosion control, muck and sediment removal and invasive species management. SOLitude partners with homeowners associations, golf courses, private landowners, businesses and municipalities. SOLitude Lake Management is part of Rentokil, a leading business services company, operating across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.