Your Guide to Finding the Right Lake Management Partner
Every lake and pond owner deserves a waterbody they can enjoy and take pride in, but keeping water resources in peak condition is challenging. A maintenance approach rooted in science can help property managers, private homeowners, golf course superintendents, and other stakeholders identify their waterbody goals and chart a path to achieve them.
The right lake and pond management partner will arm you with science-backed tools and information – and do the legwork to ensure you reach each milestone on the road to success. Unfortunately, finding a guide for this journey can be pretty confusing. How do you identify a company that wants to work WITH you, not just for you?
As a decision-maker, you can empower yourself by evaluating a variety of factors that align with your budget and expectations. This informative guide can help you successfully navigate the process and give you the confidence you need to make the best choices for your waterbody.
We know that choosing the right management partner is a big responsibility. Just like no two waterbodies are alike, no two companies bring the exact same approach to lake and pond maintenance. You should rightfully expect your partner to care about the success of your waterbody just as much as you do.
Before choosing a partner, contemplate your own values. Are you interested in more immediate results or do you desire to invest in the long-term health of your waterbody?
There is no right or wrong approach – only you know what’s best for your lake or pond. But to successfully achieve your goals, it’s imperative that your service provider understands and shares your vision.
When stakeholders partner with a lake and pond management company they usually have two overarching goals: cultivate a beautiful, functional waterbody while doing so as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Integrated Management Approach
An integrated management approach is usually the most cost-effective way – in the long run – to keep lakes and ponds healthy, functional, and beautiful. It’s also more environmentally-friendly. This approach is built on proactive, holistic solutions to nurture your waterbody from the inside out:
- Water quality testing
- Fountains and aeration
- Biological bacteria
- Mechanical sediment and weed removal
- Natural nutrient remediation products
- Shoreline management
As opposed to proactive strategies, “reactive” techniques offer immediate results. A reactive approach typically leans on fewer solutions. EPA-registered herbicides and algaecides are safe, effective, and reliable when applied by licensed professionals, but the benefits can be short-lived.
Reactive management styles are sometimes inevitable for properties that are just getting started on their management journey, but once water quality problems are under control, it’s possible to pivot to a proactive maintenance approach.
Advanced Products & Technologies
The tools used in the lake and pond management industry have advanced significantly over the years. Companies with robust fleets and modern technologies can help you manage your waterbodies more quickly, safely, and effectively than ever before. Lake management technologies and equipment include:
Professional drones: Also known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), drones are changing the way we approach the management of nuisance and invasive weeds. They play a key role throughout the process, starting with data collection and surveillance. With a bird’s-eye view of the site, professionals are better able to map target areas and identify safety challenges such as difficult terrain, flooding, infrastructure damage, or dangerous wildlife.
Bioengineered shorelines: The most effective solution for severe pond erosion is installing a bioengineered living shoreline. This is a specialized soil containment system composed of a knitted mesh material that reshapes and anchors the shore in place. This solution has two-fold benefits; in addition to enhancing the aesthetics of any property, professionals can also restore pond volume by repurposing bottom muck during the installation process.
In-house laboratory: Water quality monitoring, testing, and restoration are the backbone of any long-term integrated lake or pond management program. Understanding the chemical and biological constituents and demands on your waterbody, and understanding their impacts on water quality, is essential. The ability to interpret and quantify this information, combined with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement a program that utilizes this information to bring balance to your system, will be the key to long-term success.
Bathymetric mapping equipment: Bathymetric mapping involves the use of integrated GPS and depth sensing technology to create a three-dimensional model of your waterbody. As a result, this model has detailed bottom contours and highly accurate volume calculations. This information is vital to managing water quality, aquatic plants, algae and other aquatic life in your ecosystem.
Highly-targeted herbicides: Herbicides used in lake and pond management are specifically designed to interfere with the unique growth mechanisms of a plant without impacting native wildlife or interfering with recreational activities. And when applied by licensed professionals using backpack sprayers or modern drone technology, stakeholders can rest assured that management efforts are as highly targeted and efficient as possible.
Electrofishing vessels: As part of a fisheries survey, some fisheries biologists use a sampling technique called electrofishing (known to some as electroshocking) to collect fish population data allowing more accurate decisions and improved fisheries management strategies. Using an electrofishing boat, electricity produced from a generator is converted from alternating current to direct current. It then travels through wires to the bow of the boat and passes from the cathode through the water to the anode.
Hydro-rakes: Hydro-raking is an environmentally friendly tool used to remove soft, organic muck and debris from the bottom of lakes and ponds. This floating barge can also be used to naturally and selectively remove nuisance aquatic plants. The hydro-rake works in water as shallow as 1 foot and can restore depths ranging from 18 inches to 10 feet. This management solution is ideal for waterbodies that haven’t reached the end of their lifespan.
Mechanical/hydraulic dredges: When a waterbody can no longer be saved through proactive management methods, the next best solution is dredging. This management method is used to increase depth and remove nutrient-heavy sediments. Fortunately, there are multiple dredging options available that can accommodate various properties, environmental restrictions, budgets and waterbody types.
Unfortunately, access to new innovations has not caught up across the industry. While smaller companies may be more local and connected in the community, they can lack the overhead to support these premium solutions and equipment. More sizable companies may not feel as familiar but tend to have the infrastructure and employ larger, more knowledgeable teams that are dedicated to each aspect of lake and pond management.
You can be successful no matter the path you choose – or find a partner that strikes a healthy balance between the two.
You’re the captain of your lake and pond management journey and the right management partner should be your first mate, supporting you with the tools and resources you need along the way. So in an ever-evolving industry, it’s essential to verify that your service provider is staying up-to-date with new research, management practices, and industry developments.
Companies may demonstrate this by making information accessible through a variety of avenues:
- Blog posts
- Comprehensive guides
- Seasonal newsletters
- Educational videos
- Informative one-sheets
Your lake and pond management professional should also show enthusiasm for educating you about your waterbody, breaking down costs, and ensuring you have the knowledge and understanding to make informed decisions about your property. During the evaluation process, be sure to ask prompting questions that allow you to gauge their level of knowledge and willingness to help you understand.
Lake and pond management is a complex scientific field that employs some of the world’s most brilliant biologists, ecologists, and environmental scientists. It’s these thought leaders who are driving the industry forward through continuous research and technology development.
As you consider lake and pond management companies, look for those that maintain strategic partnerships with leading industry authorities such as The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS), the Aquatic Plant Management Society (APMS), and state Aquatic Managers Associations.
These are signs that your partner is taking extra steps to show they are specialized in their field and are continuously learning and training to better serve their customers.
Your waterbody is a reflection of you, so it’s important to work with a team that not only knows how to tackle environmental challenges but understands the “why” behind your goals.
As humans, we have an innate connection to the water. Scientific research has proven we experience physical, mental, and emotional benefits by spending time around lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, and even swimming pools.
These findings should inform the conversations your freshwater management partner has with you as you make decisions about your program.
You’re excited and invested in the health and beauty of your waterbody, and want your management partner to match that passion.
Aquatic experts understand the inextricable link our water resources have to one another and to the land that surrounds them. When your neighbor’s waterbody is in poor health, it has a direct impact on your own. Companies that support the community at a local level share a stake in the success of its stormwater pond and irrigation systems, drinking water reservoirs, recreational lakes, and even private waterbodies.
Companies may demonstrate their commitment to the community by leading volunteering programs that enhance the health of the landscape beyond your property and educate the public.
Examples of community outreach can include:
- Pond, creek, and community clean-ups
- Native vegetation and tree plantings
- Rain garden Installations
- Invasive species removals
- Fishing tournaments
- Outdoor kids events
- Natural disaster response
- Pet adoption events
- Historical restorations
- Holiday meal preparation
- Community yard sales
- Food drives
- Habitat for Humanity builds
- Trash cleanups
- Blood drives
- Benefit races or walks
Finding Your Lake Management Guide
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you’re not hiring a lake and pond management company, you’re partnering with one. Their aquatic experts will be your source of knowledge throughout the management process, they will help you implement your budget, and they will guide your choice of services and solutions.
As you evaluate potential partners, make sure you choose a company that respects your goals and exhibits the knowledge, passion, and expertise to successfully achieve them – so you can focus on enjoying your beautiful waterbody to the fullest all year round.
Enhance Your Water with SOLitude
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.