Nutrients are one of the most critically important factors affecting the health, appearance and longevity of a lake or pond. Nutrients allow all living plants and animals in an aquatic ecosystem to thrive and, when managed properly, can help homeowners associations, reservoirs, municipalities, golf courses, fisheries and private landowners achieve their dreams for a water resource. But while aquatic life requires nutrients to survive, nutrients can also result in undesirable plant and algae growth if levels are excessive. To achieve your freshwater goals while preventing nuisance plant infestations, it’s important to understand how and why to keep nutrient levels in balance.
There are many types of nutrients, but the primary types considered in lake and pond management are phosphorous and nitrogen. These nutrients occur naturally in sediment and water and are also released by plants and animals when they die and decompose. Added nutrients are also present in fertilizer, pet droppings and garbage. Most excess nutrients are brought to a waterbody through streams and stormwater runoff. As water travels across roadways, sidewalks and other impervious surfaces during rainstorms, it picks up these organic materials, transporting them to our lakes, rivers and stormwater ponds. Over time, chronic nutrient loading can cause poor water quality, bad odors, harmful algal blooms, volume loss and other undesirable outcomes. Luckily, there are many ways to reverse and prevent problems caused by nutrient loading.
While the application of an herbicide or algaecide is safe and can yield excellent results, it is a very short-sided fix for nuisance plant and algae problems. Binding or removing the nutrients that fuel the undesirable growth is a much more effective and long-lasting strategy. The first step to develop any nutrient management plan is water quality and sediment quality testing. Professional analysis will help your lake manager understand the unique characteristics of your waterbody and design a safe and effective remediation plan that considers both your long-term and short-term goals. Once nutrient levels have been identified, as well as other factors like dissolved oxygen levels, pH, and alkalinity, a customized management regimen can be implemented.
Lakes and ponds suffering from chronic nutrient loading may be excellent candidates for proven nutrient-locking technologies like Phoslock and Alum, which can help inactivate excess nutrients, making them unavailable for fueling nuisance plants and algae. Phoslock (lanthanum-modified clay) and Alum (aluminum sulfate) rapidly bind and permanently remove free reactive phosphorous from the water column. They are also effective at binding phosphorus in the bottom sediments. Alum, specifically, is an excellent management strategy for highly turbid water.
Read about our success stories and case studies involving Alum applications and nutrient remediation
Remediating nutrients present in the water column is a great step towards rebalancing and restoring a waterbody to its original beauty, but it is not the last. It’s best to pair Phoslock and Alum applications with other sustainable strategies that reduce nutrients. Mechanical hydro-raking and dredging physically remove large amounts of nutrient rich sediment responsible for fueling nuisance plant growth, which helps provide a new slate from which native plants and wildlife can thrive. Continual oxygenation of the water column is also imperative in efforts to reduce nutrient loading. Floating fountains and submersed diffused aeration systems can work day and night to introduce oxygen to your waterbody, thus facilitating the conversion of nutrients to forms that do not sustain plants and algae.
Likewise, beneficial buffers can prevent new nutrients from entering the resource. Around the shoreline, considering introducing a vegetative buffer of native, flowering plants to reduce nutrient rich stormwater runoff from flowing into your lake or pond during rainstorms. In addition to filtering runoff, beneficial buffers help stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion. Communities can go the extra mile by properly disposing of trash and pet waste, reducing reliance on lawn and garden fertilizers, and bagging leaves and grass clippings.
Nutrients occur naturally and are necessary for the growth of all plant life, but the rise in urban development, land clearing, and mass agriculture is expediting this process. It’s up to each of us to reduce our negative impact and make decisions that help reverse nutrient loading in our surrounding environment. Only then can we establish safe, long-lasting and healthy aquatic resources for our communities to enjoy for generations.
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.