Ponds and lakes provide tremendous value to the communities that they reside in. If properly maintained, they can help raise property values, provide entertainment, and recreational opportunities for the local community. Yet many people are unaware that they can contain a hidden danger: toxic algae.
As the sun from the warm summer months starts to beat down on ponds and lakes, a natural process is taking place. The nutrients from the sun begin to feed and develop large algae blooms. While the vast majority of these blooms are entirely harmless, Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB’s) can and do occur.
These toxic blooms can seriously harm or kill animals, pets, and even people! As the years go by, they are becoming more and more prevalent due to increased nutrient runoff. Livestock farms, industrial parks, pet waste, and even agricultural facilities all contribute to the growth of HAB’s in ponds and lakes across America.
We’re going to give you five tips on how to mitigate and control these potentially lethal algae outbreaks.
What Exactly Are Harmful Algae Blooms?
HAB’s occur when nutrients such as farm runoff, pet waste, or ample sun come into contact with a stagnant pond or lake. They’re usually indicated by a blue-green discoloration on the top of the water. They’re not algae as such, but rather a primitive single-celled bacterium called cyanobacteria. When the conditions are right, they form a bloom and explode in population. They usually occur in mid to late summer.
These cyanobacteria can produce liver toxins, neurotoxins, and even respiratory or cardiac problems. When you encounter a pond or lake that has foam or scum on top of the water, or the water looks discolored, it’s best to avoid contact with the water altogether. If you let your dog swim in the pond during a HAB, it could quickly be killed or harmed.
How to Tell if My Lake or Pond has a Harmful Algae Bloom?
Not all blooms are toxic. In fact, the only way to know for sure is to have a water sample taken and sent off to a laboratory for analysis. Some visual cues that might indicate a HAB are:
- Blue-green water
- Pink or red scum on top of the water
- Foam on top of the water
- Water that looks like pea soup (green)
- Oily or soupy scum
Regular Water Tests
If your private, HOA, or golf course pond is used by animals and human beings, it’s best to have your water tested on a regular basis. Water managers or property owners usually won’t check the water quality until a suspected bloom appears. By this time, it’s too late to do anything proactive. Coming up with a HAB mitigation plan and sticking to it is the best way to avoid them from occurring in the first place. Monthly water testing can give you ample warning if the conditions are right for a HAB to occurs.
Nutrients that can encourage and feed a harmful algae bloom are washed into a ponds and lakes during rainstorms. Anything that is in or on the ground can easily be washed down into the water. The bottom of the water can also contain dead leaves and other organic matter that will not decompose due to the lack of oxygen. This is another source of nutrients that can encourage a harmful algae bloom.
You could mitigate the surface nutrients completely, but the dirty organic stuff at the bottom can easily contribute to a harmful algae bloom. The best way to get rid of it is to dredge the pond or lake using an experienced underwater dredging company like American Underwater Services.
A floating fountain or a submerged aerator can help circulate water and prevent the conditions that would encourage a HAB to occur. It should be noted that aerators alone cannot prevent harmful algae from happening (despite what the manufacturers claim). You must also actively limit the number of nutrients that are in the body of water.
Create a Buffer
A natural and aesthetically pleasing way to help mitigate harmful algae blooms is to create a beneficial buffer of vegetation that will absorb and prevent nutrients such as fertilizers, chemicals, and pet waste from running off into your pond or lake.
A four to six feet buffer in an area where runoff occurs will help limit the number of nutrients that are washed down into the body of water. Try only to use plants that are native to your area and make sure that some of them are perennials as there can be a plant die-off in the wintertime – and if that happens you’re back to square one.
Create a Mitigation Plan
The only real way to prevent harmful algae blooms from occurring is to mitigate the conditions that caused them in the first place. Being reactive when a bloom occurs is not enough – it might solve the problem temporarily, but unless you fix the underlying causes, your lake or pond will wind up costing you a fortune to maintain.
Nutrient remediation and sediment removal from the bottom of the pond or lake are the two best ways to prevent HAB’s from occurring. After you get the nutrients under control, monthly water testing (especially in the warm months) is critical to help prevent further blooms from happening. You’ll also be restoring the natural balance and order to the body of water, which over time, can have a beneficial self-regulating effect.
HOA, Private, or Golf Course Pond Management
At American Underwater Services, we specialize in helping HOA’s, golf courses, and private pond owners get their toxic algae blooms under control with our dredging services. We can remove years of harmful organic and sediment build-up which continually feeds unsightly and unsafe algae blooms. Our pond dredging services will help improve property values and quality of life by eliminating harmful organic material that feeds toxic algae blooms.
We are a nationwide commercial pond cleaning and diving service. For more information or to schedule a pond cleaning call us toll free at (817) 377-8512 or fill out our form.