When it comes to dredging a pond, most people think of it as a last resort, rather than preventative maintenance. This especially holds true for those who manage HOA and golf course ponds. The dredging company is only called when the ponds start to look unsightly with weeds and algae or when a foul odor starts emanating from them.
Dredging ponds as part of an annual preventive maintenance plan is not only good for the health and aesthetics of the pond, it’s good for property values as well. The problem is that the conditions that create unsightly ponds tend to creep up on you. By the time you start wondering if you should call the dredging company, it’s already too late.
We’re going to take an in-depth look at ponds, their life cycles, and the benefits that can be derived from regularly dredging your pond.
Life Cycle of a Pond
It’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum, and in some cases this logic can be applied to ponds. From the minute they’re created and filled with water by man, the clock starts ticking on the inevitable demise of the pond. Unless humans regularly intervene and perform maintenance, the pond will eventually dry up as the years go by.
In the beginning of the pond lifecycle, birds bring organic materials such as weeds, algae, and even eggs to the pond. The wind will blow leaves and other matter into as the months go by. This organic matter will eventually sink to the bottom of the pond, where it will accumulate in the deep end.
From the shallows to about 3 feet deep live the aerobic bacteria. They do a wonderful job in quickly dissolving organic solids. When the solids reach the deep end or “bowl” of the pond they tend to accumulate rapidly. The anaerobic bacteria that live there cannot dissolve the solids fast enough and toxic and foul-smelling by products such as phosphates, sulfur dioxide, methane, and other gases start to form and escape the pond. In the meantime, the increased phosphate count will contribute to a massive algae bloom and increased water weeds.
If left to its own devices, the pond will eventually begin to shrink, and then dry up – but not before it becomes a smelly, unsightly eyesore. It will then transform into a swamp, then a marsh, and then finally dry land will reclaim the entire pond area. This is the life cycle of a pond and is completely natural.
Most ponds nowadays are for aesthetic purposes. As such they reside in local neighborhoods as well as golf courses. They’re meant to brighten up an otherwise dull landscape, as well as provide habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife.
In order to keep a pond healthy and looking great, preventative maintenance must occur on a regular basis. Aerators and natural springs will help prolong the life of the pond, but unless man intervenes, mother nature will eventually reclaim what is rightfully hers.
Benefits to Dredging
There are many benefits to be realized from dredging a pond as part of a preventive maintenance program. Chemicals, beneficial bacteria, aerators, and other gizmos will only help out so much. Eventually, the organic material at the bottom will accumulate to such an extent that the only viable option is to dredge. By this point in time, the overall health of the pond has decreased greatly, and it can take months if not years for it return back to health.
Here are 3 benefits to dredging a pond as part of a preventative maintenance program:
- Increased Property Values – Nowadays, many homeowner associations, golf courses, and other commercial areas have multiple ponds on their property. Properly maintained ponds look good and increase the property value of the surrounding areas. The University of Maine performed a study that showed water clarity improved property values anywhere from $11/ft. to $200/ft.
- Creates Valuable Topsoil – The organic matter that is dredged up can often be used as valuable top soil. This soil will help nourish trees, grass, and other plants. It will also disperse quickly and evenly due to the high-water content.
- Improves Ecosystem Health – Improved water quality is key to a healthy pond that can self-regulate. It helps increase the overall count of beneficial bacteria which in turn help reduce the amount of solid organic waste at the bottom.
It also improves the quality of life for fish and other aquatic plants and animals. Fishing opportunities also improve, which can be directly tied back to improving property values. A neighborhood with a healthy and good-looking fishing pond can dramatically increase the property values of the surrounding area.
Some types of sediment that is dredged from the bottom of the pond contain hazardous pollutants caused by industrial run off. Once this hazardous material is removed, the overall health of the pond will improve.
3 Warning Signs That it’s time to Dredge
If regular dredging of your ponds isn’t part of your preventative maintenance schedule, then here are 3 signs that indicate it’s time to dredge the pond:
- Weed growth – Weeds and other plant life are a natural part of a healthy pond. When the entire pond starts to become more weed than water, it’s time to dredge it. The increased phosphate levels that are created when organic matter starts decaying will start a chain reaction of plant and algae growth that cannot effectively be reversed by any other means other than dredging.
- Low water clarity – Even if weeds haven’t started over-taking the pond, dirty or murky water is another sign that the sediment at the bottom of the pond is due for removal. When the water takes a longer than usual time to clear after a heavy rain, it’s a sure sign that the pond needs dredging. Murky water negatively reflects upon the aesthetics of the surrounding areas.
- Foul odors – If golf course guests or residents start to complain about a “rotten egg smell”, the harmful byproducts that occur when organic matter decomposes have reached critical mass. Oftentimes it will require major work to remove all of the rotting sediment that has accumulated over the years.
Managing the ponds for a golf course or HOA is a never-ending maintenance battle. Putting harmful chemicals or expensive aerators in the pond usually only slows down the natural process of mother nature trying to reclaim land from the water. Starting a preventative maintenance dredging program will not only ensure the health and well-being of your pond for decades to come, it will exponentially increase property values all around.
If you have a pond that is starting to look unsightly, or you’re interested in learning more about dredging as part of a preventative maintenance program, give us a call at (817) 377-8512.