Phoslock Deep Dive: Improving Pond Water Quality
Every pond owner has a goal for their waterbody, whether it’s cultivating a thriving trophy fishery teeming with impressive catches, a picturesque asset on a golf course, or a breathtaking focal point that enhances the value and allure of a community association. These aspirations are not far-fetched; with the right management approach, they can become a reality. However, achieving these goals often involves navigating the complex realm of pond management, where many environmental factors come into play. Among these factors, nutrients take center stage. Appropriately managing the levels of nutrients like phosphorus is crucial to unlocking the full potential of a pond and turning goals into reality.
Phosphorus' Impact On Lakes and Ponds
Phosphorus plays a dynamic role in aquatic ecosystems and can have positive or negative impacts depending on its levels and the desired goals for the waterbody. In balanced concentrations, phosphorus promotes a healthy, vibrant circle of life where plants and algae are naturally kept in check. However, excessive phosphorus levels can fuel an overgrowth of pond weeds and large algal blooms, which deplete oxygen and release additional nutrients when they eventually die and decompose.
As organic material accumulates in the waterbody over time, water quality will continue to deteriorate and depth may be lost, increasing the risk of flooding during rainstorms. If your pond is experiencing nuisance growth, aquatic experts can conduct water quality tests to assess nutrient concentrations in professional laboratories and determine the appropriate solution.
Natural Nutrient Remediation Solution: Phoslock
Eco-friendly pond nutrient management products like aluminum sulfate (alum) and EutroSORB are excellent solutions to capture nutrients suspended in the water column, but to target phosphorus that has accumulated in the bottom sediments, aquatic experts rely on a natural lanthanum-modified bentonite clay called Phoslock. Experts typically recommend this product to restore balance in stormwater ponds and smaller waterbodies where phosphorus levels can become more concentrated. When water quality is balanced, aquatic weeds and algae are less likely to develop.
How Phoslock Works In the Water
Phoslock is typically by licensed professionals with a land-based spray mechanism. During applications, a slurry is formed as Phoslock granules mix with water. This allows the product to disperse as tiny particles that bind with phosphorus that is suspended throughout the water column. A benign mineral called Rhabdophane is produced during this binding process that settles to the bottom, creating a fine layer that continues to bind with phosphorus in the sediments. Settling occurs over the course of days or weeks, and the results may be sustained for many years with proper maintenance.
1 ton of Phoslock can bind with up to 24 pounds of phosphorus. This bond can not be broken by any pH fluctuations in the naturally occurring range. Though applications are typically conducted as a one-time solution, they can also be conducted in stages over multiple years.
First developed in the 1990s, Phoslock is a well-studied, extremely safe product that has no adverse effects on beneficial fish, macroinvertebrates, or other wildlife, making it a highly effective solution for pond owners and managers pursuing an eco-friendly management style. Once nutrients have been restored to more manageable levels, stakeholders can implement other proactive measures to prevent additional nutrients from entering the water from external sources.
Reduce Excess Nutrients with These Solutions:
Foreign pollutants like trash, sewage, animal waste, fertilizers, yard debris, and motor oil can be swept up and transported to ponds during rainstorms. Establishing a vegetative buffer of native plants around the water’s perimeter can help filter these nutrient-rich materials. The complex root systems formed by buffer plants can also help stabilize the earth, preventing the erosion of nutrient-rich sediment into the waterbody. Shoreline areas with significant degradation can be fully repaired with bioengineering techniques.
In addition to preventing nutrient loading, pond owners can introduce solutions that support the effects of Phoslock. Biological bacteria work similarly to probiotics to make the natural decomposition of nutrient-rich organic materials more efficient. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is an essential part of this process, and pond owners can further increase DO levels by introducing fountains, surface aerators, submersed aerators, and nanobubble technology to increase dissolved oxygen in the waterbody. In some cases, muck and build-up may need to be physically removed through mechanical hydro-raking or dredging to restore depth and volume.
Balance Your Water with Phoslock
Ultimately, managing phosphorus levels is crucial to strike a balance that supports optimal conditions for both the ecosystem’s health and the specific objectives of pond owners. As part of a year-round management program, pond management professionals consistently monitor water quality conditions, allowing them to identify and reverse nutrient imbalances with sustainable solutions before they get out of hand. Ready to cultivate the waterbody of your dreams? Start designing your Annual Management Program today.
SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty and preserve natural resources.
SOLitude’s team of aquatic scientists specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs. Services include water quality testing and restoration, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, shoreline erosion control, muck and sediment removal and invasive species management. SOLitude partners with homeowners associations, golf courses, private landowners, businesses and municipalities. SOLitude Lake Management is part of Rentokil, a leading business services company, operating across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.