For homeowners or communities with waterbodies, the lake or pond is often the most tranquil facet of your property, and water quality is one of the most important aspects of a healthy ecosystem. If water quality is compromised, it often leads to unsightly conditions and an unbalanced aquatic ecosystem. Though herbicides and algaecides can be important tools to utilize when control is needed for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) or invasive vegetation infestations, many property owners wish to avoid pesticide use around the home. Thankfully, environmental planning companies are constantly evolving their proactive management solutions. New techniques, equipment and technologies are making managing your pond easier and more cost-effective to implement this spring:
All living organisms need oxygen to survive, but many waterbodies suffer from poor dissolved oxygen levels due to lack of circulation in the water column. This can lead to destratification and increase the chances of a fish kill. Depending on the function of your waterbody and your long-term goals for the aquatic resource, your lake management professional may recommend one of several pond aeration solutions.
• Submersed diffused aeration systems provide oxygen and increase circulation of the lake or pond water. This solution helps to provide dissolved oxygen to the entire water column and also keeps the water mixed to avoid stratification, and a layer of low dissolved oxygen, from forming.
• Floating fountains provide oxygen and circulation from the top of the waterbody, as well as decrease mosquito habitat, accumulation of bottom sediments and help reduce excessive algal growth. Floating fountains are a great option for lakes and ponds that serve as a focal point for the community as they provide both ecological and aesthetic benefits.
Waterbodies suffering from the presence of particular algal species may
benefit from the introduction of nanobubble aeration. Nanobubble aerators directly saturate the water with up to 79,000x more oxygen than traditional pond aeration systems and can remain in the water column for 2-3 months. Additionally, when nanobubbles connect with excess nutrients and pollutants, they cause them to implode, rather than fueling nuisance plants or causing undesirable water conditions.
Nutrients can be both essential and detrimental to a waterbody. Due to the rise of urban development and pollution, excess nutrients can enter a waterbody through stormwater runoff. Over time, this can stimulate algae growth and increase your lake or pond’s rate of aging, a process called eutrophication.
• Phoslock (lanthanum-modified clay) applications can be used to rapidly bind with and permanently removes free reactive phosphorus from the water column before settling to the lake or pond bottom sediments. Once a nutrient bind with phosphorous, it can no longer be used to fuel the growth of nuisance plants or algae.
• Alum (aluminum sulfate) applications are a similar solution for chronic nutrient loading, with a particular use in highly turbid waters. Like Phoslock, Alum binds with phosphorus, inactivating and settling it to the bottom of the aquatic resource, while also remaining available to trap any additional nutrients which may be released over time.
• Biochar is a highly adsorbent material very similar to activated charcoal. To help improve water quality, Biochar is contained in a sock-like bag or similar porous container that allows water to flow through it. As the water flows through the bag, nutrients, metals and other pollutants are pulled from the water. Once the bags are full, they are removed and replaced; full bags can be used as fertilizer in gardens if desired. Biochar is typically used in moving water or near fountains to enhance results.
Over time plants die off and collect in ponds, along with leaf litter and other organic materials. Built up organic matter, sludge and sediment make a waterbody shallower with each year of accumulation. Increased sedimentation also causes an increase in water temperature by allowing more sunlight to penetrate the water column, thus encouraging increased plant and algae growth. As a result, dissolved oxygen levels can decrease, threatening native vegetation, releasing undesirable nutrients and contributing to a negative cycle of sedimentation and decay. Eventually, dredging may be the only solution to restore volume to the waterbody, but it can be one of the costliest projects a community or landowner ever faces.
• Hydro-raking is an excellent solution for reduction of bottom muck and sediment build up. A mechanical hydro-rake can physically remove built-up organic matter, plants and debris from the bottom of lakes and ponds up to 15 ft deep. This helps to reduce the overall nutrient load, thwart invasive species growth and minimize common water quality issues.
• Biological dredging is a more cost-effective and low-impact alternative to traditional dredging. Applications of microbial and enzyme-enriched products can be used to naturally metabolize muck and excess nutrients that detract from healthy aquatic ecosystems. When combined with proper aeration and beneficial aquatic plants, the results of biological augmentation are further enhanced.
Proactive management is key to cultivating healthy, long-lasting waterbodies, but these management strategies would not go far without community education. Informing residents and homeowners about the ways they can reduce their environmental footprint and protect nearby water resources helps to ensure preventative strategies are not undermined.
• Use fertilizer without phosphorus and avoid over-fertilizing. Different types of fertilizer serve different purposes, so be sure to follow the directions on the label for safe and proper application.
• Regularly rake and bag leaves, lawn clippings and organic waste to prevent them from flowing in to stormwater facilities and over-burdening pipes and conduits.
• Use environmentally-friendly detergents and cleaners when washing vehicles and pressure-washing houses. Look for soaps that are formulated to be biodegradable.
• Create landscaping swales (natural filtering systems) around storm drains and impervious surfaces to prevent lake erosion and help intercept water. Native flowering vegetation, pebbles and river rocks serve as excellent infiltration media when lined along walkways, driveways and stormwater facilities.
• Deter pets and geese from entering waterbodies. An adult Canada goose can produce up to two pounds of droppings each day, which may significantly increase nutrient levels in a short period of time.
• Improve lawncare and community gardening practices by planting vegetative buffers to help decrease soil and nutrient run-off.
Each of these techniques will help enhance the aesthetics and function of your water resources, while extending the lifespan of your waterbody. The positive effects of proactive lake and pond management efforts will go a long way in preserving valuable habitat for beneficial wildlife and creating a peaceful, relaxing ecosystem.
SOLitude Lake Management is an environmental firm specializing in sustainable lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management services. Learn more about this topic at www.solitudelakemanagement.com/knowledge
This post courtesy of SOLitude Lake Management.
Visit SOLitude Lake Management at: www.solitudelakemanagement.com