How to Proactively Manage Your Waterbody
From the moment they are formed, lakes and ponds begin to age. This process is called eutrophication, and the rate at which a waterbody ages is dependent on many factors, including plant and algae growth, erosion and nutrient pollution. If these factors are not managed correctly, the lake or pond will eventually fill with sediment until it becomes no more than a puddle. Fortunately, many proactive solutions can help reduce these water quality issues and extend the lifespan of your waterbody. A professional lake management company can help you develop a personalized plan that meets your specific goal – whether it’s cultivating a trophy fishery, a beautiful community pond or a recreational lake to use for boating and swimming.
Conduct Water Quality Testing
Often, the first step when developing a proactive management plan is to test the water. Water quality testing helps establish a management baseline by revealing nutrient levels, dissolved oxygen, pH, algae and bacteria species, and other unique parameters. Much like lab tests performed by a doctor, water quality tests will identify potential areas of concern and allow our aquatic experts to create a treatment plan that enhances the overall health and beauty of the ecosystem. Testing at regular intervals will ensure your waterbody is on track to meet your goals and help keep future problems like bad odors, fish kills, toxic algae blooms, and invasive species infestations at bay.
Increase Dissolved Oxygen Levels with Aeration
Many problems that are identified through water quality testing can be prevented by improving dissolved oxygen levels. This can be achieved with the introduction of floating fountains or submersed diffused aerators, which are helpful in keeping mosquitoes at bay, reducing stagnant water, and preventing fish kills. Both solutions help introduce oxygen into the water column which helps balance nutrient levels. When nutrient levels are more balanced, water quality issues like algae and aquatic weeds are less likely to develop.
Establish A Beneficial Buffer and Repair Shoreline Erosion
Lakes and ponds with extreme infestations of invasive plants and algae are likely suffering from excessive runoff. Runoff that occurs during rainstorms can bring all kinds of pollution into a lake or pond, including fertilizers from surrounding farms or landscaping, animal waste, grass clippings, and trash. These organic materials are rich in phosphorous, nitrogen, and other nutrients that are responsible for fueling undesirable plant growth and aging the waterbody. Cultivating a beneficial vegetative buffer from native plants and grasses can help prevent sedimentation and runoff from flushing into the lake or pond. Buffers should be allowed to grow 3-5 feet around the shoreline and trimmed annually. Waterbodies suffering from excessive (and potentially dangerous) shoreline erosion may further benefit from a bioengineered living shoreline system called SOX Erosion Solutions. SOX systems are durable, aesthetically pleasing, and custom-designed to halt sedimentation and erosion for five years or more.
Reducing Excess Nutrient Levels
In addition to shoreline protection, the professional application of beneficial biological bacteria should be considered to limit the negative impact of nutrients. Biological augmentation can help process any excess organic materials naturally, rendering them unfit to fuel nuisance plant and algae growth. Biological bacteria help stabilize the foundation of the aquatic resource and promote the diversification of the ecosystem by encouraging “good” zooplankton and healthy fish. Excess nutrients can also be alleviated by the application of unique lanthanum-modified clay. Products like Phoslock and Alum rapidly bind with free reactive nutrients like phosphorous, settling to the bottom and effectively removing it from the water column. For lakes and ponds with extensive water movement, a new natural solution called EutroSORB is an effective alternative.
Mechanically Remove Nuisance Vegetation
If plant growth has already overrun your lake or pond to the point that water visibility is limited, mechanical means may be necessary to proactively restore the waterbody. Hydro-raking is an effective tool for the sustainable removal of nuisance-rooted vegetation, tree limbs, and other debris. A mechanical hydro-rake is a floating pontoon or barge outfitted with a backhoe and rake attachments. The hydro-rake can be used to remove sediment in water as shallow as 18 inches and in depths of up to 10 feet deep. The results of hydro-raking, where vegetation removal is the goal, will vary depending on the types of nuisance vegetation present. Plants with well-developed root systems, like water lilies and cattails, can be significantly reduced for 2-3 years following a hydro-raking project. Most importantly, hydro-raking is an excellent tool to help extend the lifespan of a lake or pond without resorting to dredging, which is effective at restoring the depths of a waterbody, but is extremely costly.
No matter the state of a lake or pond, it’s never too late to begin a proactive management plan to achieve your long-term waterbody goals. A professional lake manager will help you restore the natural balance of the ecosystem and work with you to slow the eutrophication process so your waterbody thrives—and looks beautiful—for years to come.
Discover the Benefits of Proactive Management
SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full servicelake and pond management solutions that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, hydro-raking, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Services, consulting and aquatic products 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, parks, and state and federal agencies. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.