Eco-friendly Solutions for Maintaining a Beautiful, Balanced Waterbody
Written by: Industry Expert Erin Stewart, Aquatic Biologist & Regional Leader
When it comes to the management of a lake or pond, many people look for natural and environmentally-friendly options. There are, in fact, many eco-friendly solutions that can be used to help improve freshwater environments. These strategies are often employed as part of a proactive lake and pond management program.
The most effective and sustainable management strategies should be chosen based on the specific conditions of the waterbody. A comprehensive water quality analysis is typically the first step in identifying possible causes of problems in our water resources. Water quality analyses often show that nutrient imbalances are causing undesirable conditions. By carefully managing nutrient levels, your freshwater management professional can help create a balanced ecosystem that aligns with your goals for the property. Often, goals are set around a reduction in nuisance algae, aquatic weeds, or foul odors. Common tools in the management process include the use of beneficial bacteria, nutrient remediation products, vegetative buffers, erosion control, and aeration.
Beneficial bacteria products work to reduce and cycle problem-causing, excess nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. These products are made of high concentrations of naturally occurring aquatic bacteria that help improve water quality by speeding up the natural process of nutrient cycling and breakdown of organic material.
Likewise, nutrient remediation can be a very effective way to bind nutrients, so they are no longer bio-available. An array of professional products can be used to bind phosphates so they may no longer impact water quality. Some products sink the excess nutrients to the bottom sediments; others allow them to be physically removed from the water column. When applied properly by a licensed lake and pond management professional, these products are non-toxic and safe for aquatic life and all water uses.
Managing vegetation in and around waterbodies can also have a profound effect on water quality. Cultivating beneficial vegetative buffers around your lakes and ponds will help filter pollutants and sediments that enter our water resources during rainstorms. Consider introducing native grasses and wetland plants and allow them to grow, unmowed, 3-5 ft out from the shoreline. The nutrient filtration benefits of vegetative buffers can be maximized when used in conjunction with professional shoreline restoration strategies. These include premium options like SOX Solutions—a patented woven containment technology—as well as other solutions like rip rap and coconut coir logs. Each of these erosion control solutions can be completely customized to meet the aesthetic, functional, and budgetary goals of your property.
Finally, submersed aeration systems and floating fountains help to improve water quality by increasing oxygen levels throughout the resource. High oxygen concentrations help create water quality conditions that convert nutrients to forms that cannot be utilized for nuisance aquatic weeds or algae growth. Likewise, more premium aeration alternatives like oxygen saturation technology can be used to eliminate algae and destroy the dangerous toxins caused by Harmful Algal Blooms.
It’s important to keep in mind that these solutions are most effective when used in conjunction with other sustainable management strategies as part of an annual management program. For example, in the presence of aeration, beneficial bacteria will be more effective and provide better results. Long-term monitoring and maintenance ultimately help lead to a greatly improved aquatic habitat—and you’ll also feel good knowing that you are being kind to your Mother Earth in the process!