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Muck, Sludge and Mud: When Is There Too Much?

February 13, 2020

by Zach Haas
Senior Aquatic Biologist

Did you know Mother Nature wants to fill your pond in over time, and how devastating this can be on your pond? If you didn’t, now is the time to determine how much of a sleeping issue you have building up at the bottom of your pond, and how to correct the issue before it gets out of hand.

Costly Consequence if Left Alone

As your pond ages you will see more algae and plant growth over time. As the plants and algae die off each year they decompose and add to the problem that is growing below the water surface. This muck is full of nutrients which just stimulates another year of nuisance growth the following season. However, not all ponds age as quickly as others. Typically, deeper ponds (12 feet or more) don’t have the issues that shallow ponds (8 feet or less) since there is less growth area otherwise known as the littoral zone.

Every year the pond or lake will continue this cyclical process until ultimately Mother Nature gets her way and makes your once beautiful waterbody into a swamp. At this point the only way to get your pond or lake back to where it once was is through very expensive dredging. Some sites state costs upwards to $75,000 per acre. At this cost, you can practically dig a brand new pond!

Now you may ask yourself, “How do I stop this from happening!?”. We are here to tell you there is a simple step by step process to help your pond going in the right direction.

1)    Get Your Pond or Lake a Health Check-up

Summer Health Assessments and Winter Sediment Sampling offer an opportunity for pond and lake owners to learn more about the health of their waterbody and the sediment that settles on the bottom over time.  The information collected is an important resource for pond and lake care and future management practices.  These efforts assist biologists in determining what products and associated applications might be required for safe, enjoyable and recreational activities. 

Typically, sediment sampling occurs during the winter months when ice conditions are deemed safe enough for our staff and related equipment. However, if a full health assessment is more appropriate for your pond, then the sampling will occur when plants are actively growing. Ultimately both the sediment sampling and health assessment are used to determine what products and tools are best to get your pond back to the healthy state it used to be in.

Winter Sediment Samplings Include:

  • Loose Sediment Depth Profile
  • Organic Sediment Percentage
  • Nutrient Testing and Management Protocol

Health Assessments Include:

  • Bathymetry Mapping
  • Sediment Depth and Nutrient Testing
  • Water Quality Testing
  • Aquatic Plant Survey
  • Dissolved Oxygen & Temperature Testing

2) Bring in the Professionals

Once a biologist has determined where your pond or lake sits for health, it is time to incorporate BMP’s (Best Management Practices). Simply stated, a BMP is a term used to describe a type of water pollution control. For this example, we are considering the decay of nuisance vegetation and algae the pollution of your pond. The aquatic management industry has a slough of tools and products that can help keep your pond or lake in mint condition.

Tools such as aeration, beneficial bacteria, and water quality management plans can greatly help you slow down the clock Mother Nature has placed on your waterbody. An aquatic biologists’ goal is to limit nuisance growth, maintain ecological balance, and improve aesthetics for those enjoying the resource. Getting in touch with a true professional can truly make a difference in how long your pond or lake remains aesthetically pleasing and healthy.

Commonly Used Management Tools

3)    Continue with the Plan

Now that your lake or pond has been fully assessed and a biologist has put a plan in place, we cannot stress enough how important it is to continue with the plan. Much like your health you can’t expect to be fit as a fiddle if you workout only one day of the year and then eat pizza the other 364 days of the year. You have to stick with it. There are many plan options and products available to accommodate your budget.

Get in touch with our team of knowledgeable biologists to schedule a site visit to learn how you can improve your pond or lake’s health, reduce muck accumulation, and preserve the waterbody that you have enjoyed for future generations.


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