How to: Taking care of your customer’s pond

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Updated Jun 29, 2018
Photo: Sam Felder/FlickrPhoto: Sam Felder/Flickr

Summertime is the perfect time to hit the water, grab the fishing pole and spend a day at the pond, but if your customers haven’t maintained the area or asked your crew to maintain it, the pond might look a little questionable.

Take a look at some of the most common pond-related issues that may arise this season and how you can explain these situations to your clients.

Murky waterbody

If you find that your customer’s pond water is murky and is tan or brown in color, it’s very likely that sediment particles are suspended within the water column.

This usually happens after a substantial rain, so be sure to inspect the shoreline to help identify areas where erosion has taken place, which causes sediment to enter the water.

By finding this sediment early on, the hope is to address and minimize it, as this kind of runoff sediment can carry nutrients, too. In of few cases, murky water can also be caused by an algae bloom, as algae aren’t always green. Some species of algae are golden, red or brown and can bloom at various times all throughout the year.

Green coloring

It can sometimes be difficult to determine the exact cause of green pond water if you haven’t performed proper water quality testing and analysis, but overall, it’s likely that the cause is algae.

Algae can look similar to some aquatic plants, but they lack true roots, leaves, and stems, and they can be present in two forms: microscopic or filamentous.

Microscopic are single-cell plants suspended within the water column, and they usually give off a “pea-soup” kind of look. These algae are able to produce toxins, which are detrimental to both the health of the wildlife and humans. Filamentous has a stringier look that can create large mats on the surface of the water or along the pond’s bottom.

When there’s an abundance of algae on a pond, it’s usually the result of an increased nutrient input, such as agricultural or fertilizer runoff, but there are other possible causes.

Getting rid of algae

When working to manage or completely rid your customer’s pond of algae, step one is to quantify and identify internal and external nutrient sources.

To minimize future algae issues, the original nutrient source should be addressed if possible. To ensure long-term results, follow this up with a proactive and appropriate management.

To remove available nutrients from within the pond, performing nutrient inactivation treatments is also an option. Just be sure to stress to your customers that this particular process needs to only be done by a licensed professional.

Talk to your customers about the possibility of installing a pond aerator to help mitigate algae growth. Since aeration systems increase available dissolved oxygen within the water, the breakdown of organic matter and consumption of excess nutrients present is supported. This, in turn, discourages algae growth.

Pond aeration systems are available as submersed diffusers or floating fountain features.

Invasive aquatic plants and cattails

One of the most common types of non-native, invasive plants to show up in ponds and lakes in the United States is milfoil.

These plants feature feather-like leaves and are able to thrive in a wide range of aquatic habitats. Regardless of the species, there are multiple management options available, but the most commonly used treatment is to use EPA-approved herbicides.

Treatment is usually done via boat and subsurface injection to help target the growth areas, but physical removal can also be done using a mechanical harvester or hydro-rake for some species. Although, physical removal is not recommended for species like milfoils, as they can spread through plant fragmentation.

When customers ask about cattails, take stock of the size of the area, as cattails can prove either beneficial or troublesome depending on the pond size.

If they are located in scattered patches along the shoreline of a larger pond, they can serve as an excellent habitat for wildlife. But if the cattails seem to be growing in an unruly and dense manner, they can be potentially threatening, especially in smaller, shallow ponds.

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