AS SEEN IN Virginia Turfgrass Journal: Written by Industry Expert, Trent Nelson, Aquatic Specialist
Have you ever experienced a dry season where rain was not in the immediate forecast and you were not absolutely certain that your irrigation ponds held enough water to cover you? As a former assistant golf course superintendent, I remember times when our irrigation lake was extremely low, and our greens could not go one more night without water. I knew that there was a good chance that I’d be hand watering them several times the next day, and each day without rain seemed to require more applied water than the one before. I knew I would soon be staring at mud in the irrigation lake where water once was.
This is not a situation that any golf course or turf manager wants to find himself (or herself) navigating, yet it seems to happen somewhere in the region every year. Along with the tremendous amount of scientific research, management techniques and cutting edge pesticides that are available to manage turf, there are strategies and tools that are equally important to ensure that ponds are managed properly and are aesthetically pleasing to your guests, but also to maintain their capacity for one of the turf industry’s most important maintenance tasks: irrigation.
How Bathymetry Can Help
If you have ever asked yourself, “What is the actual water-storage capacity in my irrigation pond?” or “I wonder how much water I have left to use to water my turf?” you are an ideal candidate for bathymetry. Looking below the water surface is very similar to analyzing a soil test report or evaluating the root system of your greens. Once you determine what lies beneath, you can manage the inputs and surrounding environment to maximize the output.
Bathymetry, which is a study of the three-dimensional volume and bottom contours of a waterbody, can reveal a multitude of information about your irrigation pond. If you’ve ever wondered about your pond’s water-storage capacity and how that changes over the years, a bathymetric study can answer your questions and help prepare you for any short- or long-term maintenance that could be needed to keep your pond in working order.
All ponds and lakes have a natural life span that can be cut short by an abundance of sediment buildup, nuisance algae and aquatic vegetation growth, animal activity, poor management or a combination of these factors. Poor bank stabilization, improper buffer management and increased upstream development are the main contributing factors to increased sedimentation. If you observe that your pond’s capacity could possibly be decreasing, a bathymetric study could be an important tool for understanding your situation and being able to properly plan.
A wide array of factors can affect the timing of a bathymetric analysis. You can begin considering bathymetry once your pond has aged and begins to demonstrate decreased capacity. In areas where on-site or upstream development activities are high, this could literally be within a few years of the pond’s original construction.
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Trent Nelson is an experienced Aquatic Specialist with SOLitude Lake Management servicing clients throughout the Carolinas and is a former golf course assistant superintendent.
SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.