When communities begin anticipating and planning for possible future expenses, they will likely discover that dredging has a very large price tag. In fact, dredging is often one of the largest expenses a community will ever face. Luckily, there are things that can be done to help reduce costs and prolong the time span between dredging efforts, which are generally recommended every 20 years.
While lakes and stormwater ponds can be beautiful assets to our communities, they often have specific engineered and environmental purposes. For instance, they help slow down and dissipate water that flows during rainstorms, which picks up speed and energy as it passes over a community’s impervious surfaces such as roofs, streets, driveways and sidewalks. They also help collect pollutants and organic matter to prevent them from being deposited elsewhere.
Muck, grass clippings, leaves, fertilizer and other organic matter all accumulate in our water resources over time. Eventually, this accumulation of organic materials will become too great. Dredging will be required to remove several feet of build-up and restore the waterbody's original depth and holding capacity. It can take years for a community to properly budget for a much-needed dredging project, but with proper data collection and ongoing management strategies it is possible to to delay the need by several years.
Bathymetric mapping is one of the best methods to establish a timeline for future dredging projects. A bathymetric study provides a detailed internal map of a lake or pond with specific GPS points that correlate with particular water depths. This map is used to identify the total water volume and the amount of accumulated matter, and will help pinpoint problem areas. Often, a mechanical hydro-rake is relied upon to conduct these "spot treatments."
A hydro-rake is a floating pontoon or barge outfitted with a backhoe and rake attachments. The hydro-rake can be used to remove organic matter in water as shallow as 18 inches and in depths of up to 10 feet deep. Because the hydro-rake works from the water, it can access coves and shoreline areas that are normally unreachable using conventional methods.
The hydro-rake gathers up to 500 pounds of debris with each scoop and deposits it on to the shore for disposal. In areas where access to the shoreline is limited, the hydro-rake can be paired with a transporter vessel to contain materials before unloading at a designated location, so property managers can rest assured that this option will have minimal impact on shorelines, helping to preserve the valuable landscapes of lakefront homes, golf courses and other beautiful properties.
While hydro-raking is an incredibly cost- and environmentally-friendly solution for the removal of excess organic matter and vegetation, it is only one piece of a holistic pond management plan. Muck removal efforts can be further enhanced with the use of nutrient remediation strategies that help reverse imbalances in the water column. During this process, products like Alum (aluminum sulfate) are applied under the water, where it forms a floc that binds to excess nutrients. After a short time, this floc settles to the bottom. Once the process is complete, the nutrients are no longer able to impact water quality conditions.
SOLitude’s state-of-the-art application vessel is custom designed to apply Alum safely and efficiently. The 30ft long barge is powered by twin outboard engines and equipped with a fathometer and GPS–based speedometer, in-line pressure gauges, and flowmeters that measure product delivery rates. The vessel is also equipped with three tanks with a combined capacity of 3,000 gallons.
Alum is an excellent option for turbid water and large lakes, including drinking water reservoirs. Depending on variables in lake conditions, Alum water treatments can be effective at improving water quality for up to 20 years.
Just as a car requires regular maintenance to ensure it operates effectively, lakes and ponds benefit extensively from ongoing management. In addition to these sustainable solutions, your freshwater resources will also benefit from regular water quality testing, buffer management, shoreline erosion control, aeration, nanobubble treatments and more. By understanding the functions of your waterbody and using data to fix problems when they are small, a community can cut costs, utilize the full potential of its water resources and spend more time budgeting for the future.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management needs.
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, 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, 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.