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Is Nutrient Loading the Cause of Algae Outbreak in Your HOA or Golf Course Pond?

If your job involves maintaining golf courses or HOA ponds, you’re familiar with nuisance algae and vegetation outbreaks.

One of the biggest and most dangerous outbreaks is cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. It’s toxic to pets, livestock, and humans. Most professional treatments on the market will kill the bacteria, but a poisonous residue is left over when they die, which can cause great harm.

Read on to learn more about how to help prevent nutrient loading in your ponds.

What Causes Nutrient Loading?

The cause of these outbreaks is nutrient loading. This happens when a small body of water, such as a pond, receives too many nutrients from such sources as animal waste, organic debris, and fertilizers.

As the nutrients enter the water, gravity pulls them towards the bottom, where beneficial bacteria cannot break them down, thanks to the oxygen-poor environment. Over time, nutrient levels such as nitrites and nitrates become out of balance with the rest of the water chemistry.

When coupled with strong sunlight, an outbreak can form and choke the life out of the water in a day or two. HOA and golf course community managers then need to react to the damage that has been done, and it can seem like attempting to lasso a 3,000-lb bull using only a piece of string.

Steps to Prevent or Limit Nutrient Loading

Ponds near livestock farming operations tend to suffer the worst from nutrient loading. After and a big rainfall, all of that water picks up the manure and fertilizers and carries it downhill, often into nearby HOA and golf course ponds.

Landscapers are another cause of nutrient loading. They sometimes run their lawnmowers and trim the grass around the pond. If the grass clippings are not picked up, they will make their way into the water and start to cause nutrient loading.

The first thing you can do to help slow the number of nutrients entering your small bodies of water is to plant native vegetation extending upwards of 3-5 feet from the shoreline. When it rains, the thick vegetative buffer will soak up nutrients and prevent them from entering the water.

Beneficial Bacteria

You can also add beneficial bacteria to your pond to help increase the breakdown of organic matter. There are many different kinds, such as those that live in the water column and others that live in films and sediments.

However, this isn’t a cure-all, as you can only add so many beneficial bacteria to a body of water before you get diminishing returns. This process is best as preventative maintenance, which is part of the complete pond management plan.

Clear Away Debris

Grass clippings and fallen leaves within 50 yards of the pond should be manually picked up and disposed of properly. Never underestimate the power of a strong breeze—organic matter is very light and can travel long distances.

If you’re an HOA community manager, try to prevent residents from letting their household pets get too close to the water. Creating an education campaign is a great way to do this without posting unsightly warning signs along the water’s edge. Utilize your community newsletter or fliers to educate residents about pet management and remind them that the fertilizer and chemicals that they use in their home gardens can make their way down to the pond and cause an outbreak.

Pond Dredging

Calling in professional dredgers, such as American Underwater Services, is the most cost-effective way of dealing with these outbreaks once and for all. The dredging machine will suck up the organic muck at the bottom of the pond that is feeding the nuisance algae and invasive plant outbreaks.

Depending on the amount of nutrient loading throughout the year, we recommend dredging your ponds once every six to twelve months. The muck that is dredged can be used as a rich fertilizer for plants, trees, and grass.

Professional Nationwide HOA and Golf Course Pond Dredging

If you’re a golf course or HOA community manager and are tired of playing whack-a-mole with nuisance algae and invasive plant outbreaks, call the pond cleaning experts at American Underwater Services.

At American Underwater Services, we have decades of experience helping our client dredge their ponds, lakes, and waterways. We can safely tackle any job, no matter how big or small. If you have a dredging job that you’d like to discuss, call (817) 377-8512 or contact us for more information.



Anthony Di Iulio the founder, president and co-owner of American Underwater Services, Inc., started his business in 1999 with only three employees. Today this commercial diving company employs nearly 30 people and handles over 500 projects annually. Anthony moved to Fort Worth from Louisiana with his family in 1976. He worked summers during high school welding underwater for a marina on Benbrook Lake. Eventually he took scuba lessons after almost drowning on the job. Those lessons led him to training at a deep sea diving school in Houston, which included training on offshore oil rigs. Anthony spent several years in Louisiana working on offshore rigs and on inland jobs at power plants and dams before starting American Underwater Services, Inc.


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