Case Study: Managing Aquatic Weeds & Algae in a Complex Canal System
Aquatic management plans vary as no two waterbodies or properties are alike, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to lake and pond management. Several years ago, we came across a particularly interesting opportunity that exemplifies how our team is able to successfully utilize a variety of aquatic management strategies to develop an effective and customized plan for the restoration of an aquatic ecosystem.
In 2014, the homeowners association of a large community in North Carolina approached SOLitude for help with restoring balance to their system of waterbodies. The 500-acre development consists of a 56-acre canal system, an 11-acre lake and 11 other small ponds interspersed throughout the community. Significant populations of nuisance bladderwort (Utricularia) and proliferating spikerush (Eleocharis baldwinii) were observed through the waterbodies, along with several algal blooms of both the planktonic and filamentous varieties.
Our first step was to collect and analyze water samples from various sites throughout the system. These tests revealed several water quality issues including low levels of dissolved oxygen, low pH readings, low alkalinity and higher than ideal nutrient loads. Our next step was to address the aquatic plant and algae growth. Armed with the water quality data, the appropriate products were selected and used to control the population of bladderwort and proliferating spikerush within the canals.
In addition to the annual maintenance program, we performed a bathymetric study in preparation for installation of a large submersed aeration system. Over a few days, several thousand data points were recorded by traversing acres of the canal system and other lakes. With these data points, we were able to produce a highly detailed map of the waterbodies and what lied beneath the surface. The information gleaned from bathymetry proves invaluable when making decisions about how best to manage a waterbody.
Our team then worked with engineers to design an aeration system to help improve oxygen levels throughout. Starting in 2016, and adding more in 2017, our team installed 31 submersed aeration systems throughout the canal system. The aeration systems helped limit water cloudiness and foul odors. More importantly, they helped reduce the overall accumulation of organic sediment on the bottom and available nutrients in the water column, thereby reducing the likelihood of problematic algae blooms and other water quality problems.
Additional services were added in order to meet the needs of the client including introduction of Triploid Grass Carp to the waterbodies. These carp feed on aquatic vegetation, consuming up to three times their weight in food each day. Both pulverized lime and liquid lime formulations were also added to raise the pH and further improve water quality. The applications were made on two separate occasions and involved loading a pontoon boat with the pulverized lime and applying the lime throughout the entire canal system.
The combination of techniques utilized to create a customized management plan tailored to this unique property allowed the team at SOLitude to exceed all of our client’s expectations. At the end of the day, it’s more than just dropping in a floating fountain or pond aerator — we look at each situation with a new set of eyes and use all of the professional management tools available to us to create a healthy and balanced aquatic ecosystem and, in this case, we can truly say we have accomplished that mission.
Balancing Water Quality
SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty, preserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint. SOLitude’s team of aquatic resource management professionals specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs that include water quality testing and restoration, nutrient remediation, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, bathymetry, shoreline erosion restoration, mechanical harvesting and hydro-raking, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat evaluations, and invasive species management. Services and educational resources are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, drinking water authorities, parks, and state and federal agencies. SOLitude Lake Management is a proud member of the Rentokil Steritech family of companies in North America.