Back to the Basics: Professional Answers to Common Lake & Pond Concerns
All living things experience birth, growth, and physical and chemical changes that cause aging. Lakes and ponds are no exception. Our aquatic resources are not permanent, and, like humans, the health of a waterbody often dictates its shape, size, appearance, and lifespan. Similarly, steps can be taken to improve the health and longevity of an aquatic resource. Therefore, it’s extremely important for homeowners, property managers, golf courses, and municipalities to stay in tune with the needs of local waterbodies and take proactive and preventative steps to support the well-being of their lakes and ponds year over year.
Lake and pond management isn’t always cut and dry, but thankfully, there is a lot of knowledge out there that can help us diagnose potential problems and design management plans that are safe for both humans and the environment. Below are some explanations for common issues most lake and pond owners and managers will eventually encounter.
Why is my pond green?
A green lake or pond can be caused by many factors, and the most common culprit is algae. Algae can be identified by its lack of root systems, stems, or conductive tissues. If a bloom is well-established, the entire water column may take on a green, yellow or blue-ish color. In some cases, mother nature may clear up the bloom naturally, but if certain species, like Cyanobacteria, are allowed to persist, a bloom could begin producing toxins that are dangerous for pets, humans, and wildlife. If the bloom appears soupy or paint-like in appearance, it’s worth contacting a lake management professional to determine whether or not a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) is present.
It’s also possible that your lake or pond is plagued by a different aquatic species called Watermeal. Watermeal is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world and is often mistaken for green algae due to its cornmeal-like specks, which float atop the water. Submersed aquatic plants can also cause a lake or pond to take on a green appearance, but only water quality testing and analysis can reveal the true offender.
What is the best way to prevent algae?
In modest amounts, algae can signify a waterbody is in good health, but an overabundance often indicates the ecosystem is suffering from an imbalance. To prevent nuisance amounts of algae and aquatic weeds, steps should be taken to limit nutrient loading. Nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen fuel the growth of undesirable aquatic plants, but their impact can be reduced by establishing a beneficial vegetative buffer around the edge of your lake or pond. Buffers help take up excess nutrients that are brought to your waterbody in stormwater runoff during heavy rains. Following yard work, leaves, grass, and other organic materials should also be bagged and removed to prevent them from accumulating and decaying in the waterbody. Animal waste should be disposed of and pets, geese and livestock should be prevented from swimming in the waterbody to prevent further nutrient intake.
For waterbodies already suffering from high levels of nutrients, the application of beneficial bacteria or nutrient deactivating products can also help. Once phosphorous and nitrogen come in contact with these products, the nutrients are no longer able to sustain the growth of undesirable weeds and algae.
Our pond has filled in over time. How can we restore depth?
Many factors, like nutrient levels, plant growth, and erosion, can affect the length of a waterbody’s existence, but the lifespan is considered complete when sediment builds up to the point that it can no longer retain water. While this usually signifies the end of the life cycle, certain solutions, like hydro-raking, can help reduce signs of aging, give many years of life back to the waterbody, and prolonging dredging—potentially one of the costliest expenses a community will ever face. Environmentally friendly hydro-raking is most useful in lakes and ponds that have collected large amounts of organic muck and debris from things like decaying algae and plant matter, leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs, and more. The hydro-rake gathers up to 500 pounds of debris with each scoop and deposits it onshore for disposal, improving the overall volume and freeing up space for native plant and animal species to thrive again.
Our pond is in good shape, but we want to prevent future problems. What can we do?
Routine water quality testing is one of the best ways to stay on top of conditions in your lake or pond. Regularly checking your waterbody’s vitals can help reveal trends or imbalances in nutrient levels, pH, dissolved oxygen, algae species, and more, all of which play an equally important role in the health of an aquatic system.
The introduction of a floating fountain or submersed diffused aeration system can also help support the health of an aquatic ecosystem. The resulting circulation and oxygenation of the stagnant body of water will help prevent mosquitoes, limit bad odors and cloudiness, and facilitate the growth of healthy green phytoplankton, which are the base of a thriving food chain. These proactive measures can be further enhanced by establishing a beneficial vegetative buffer to reduce nutrient runoff, and applying beneficial bacteria, which act as healthy probiotics that aid in the efficient decomposition of organic materials over time.
Lakes and ponds are like bountiful gardens: they require knowledge and experience, a close eye, and a little bit of love to achieve their full potential. By taking some proactive steps to encourage a healthy waterbody, it is possible to establish a foundation that makes routine management simple and rewarding for years to come. Contact a professional lake or pond manager for help getting started.
The Benefits of Aeration
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.