Avoiding Water Hazards on Your Golf Course

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


Maintaining a decorative waterscape is more complicated than one might think. Some streams, lakes, and ponds require only simple preventive measures, while others can be huge challenge. This is an area where aquatic professionals can be of great help to you.

Problem

Organisms in the water build up on waterscape surfaces. Phosphate, nitrogen, and organic materials provide nutrition, contributing to their growth. This problem will continue unless intervention occurs.

The problem is fueled by:

  1. Runoff fro overwatering adjacent fertilized turf. Nutrients in the fertilizer stimulate growth, thus nurturing the problem.
  2. Trees near the waterscape. Debris from tree leaves is another major source of nutrients.
  3. Dumping of grass clippings into the water. Grass clippings come from tips, where nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient level is highest.
  4. Use of reclaimed water. The nutrient load and high salt content of reclaimed water leads to color, odor, and algae problems.

Solutions

The best solution is to restore balance by ensuring adequate circulation, manageable, nutrient levels, proper aeration, and use of equipment and approved chemicals to control contaminants.

Restoring balance can be helped by:

  1. Adding products which slow down biological contamination.
  2. Running filters for at least twelve hours daily, to ensure proper filtration and oxygenation, and to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.
  3. Blocking sunlight, thus retarding growth of undesirable organisms.
  4. Proper design. For example, depth and shape affect circulation and filtration, debris from trees and fertilized turn has a major impact, and a properly placed aerator will keep water circulating and oxygen-recharged.

Other Issues

  1. Foam and soaps and dead organic material can be effectively treated with defoamers.
  2. Loss of clarity can arise from minute particles in the water. First ensure proper aeration and circulation, then use a flocculent/ clarifier. This attaches like magnets to the contaminants, with the resulting heavier particles falling to the bottom. Addition of certain bacteria will enhance the water quality and clarity, and help digest sludge to the bottom.
  3. Algae are problematic only if nutrients are present, which is common, Algae problems will not go away by themselves. First verify there is sufficient aeration and filtration, and then apply a product to control the algae. Some products “kill” everything quickly; others are gentler, and manage the algae while “killing” offensive plants. Enzymes can help boost these products. Once the desired algae level is reached, a biological method is recommended to maintain the sludge level.
  4. Dyes can block sunlight and enhance attractiveness of the water color. This will inhibit production of chlorophyll, the food needed for growth. Once all problems are addressed, a dye that is safe for living creatures can be added.

Summary

Decorative waterscape is designed to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance to the golf course. Waterscape problems can, instead, create the opposite effect. There is no single, easy solution. However, help is available from knowledgeable professionals who manage lakes, ponds, and streams daily, while striving for the delicate balance between nature and desired visual effects. This is an aquatic professional’s area of expertise. Don’t hesitate to call if you are having problems with your waterscape!

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature.

Body Dysmorphia: Your Body of Water Could Become Your Slimiest Headache

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, CEO of DWI


It’s your body of water: a lake, a stream, or a pond; but, sometimes it can simply become your headache. Any abnormalities in the sight or smell, any malfunctions with the pumps or valves, or any shifts in the habitat are all situations that could cause your body of water to become your stressful headache. The fact is whether natural or manmade, every body of water requires attention and maintenance to preserve its beauty and functionality. All bodies of water experience problems; some are seen, some are unseen.

Man-made bodies of water – like the ones that exist in apartment communities, condominiums, and golf courses – are built, filled and left to the association or property management company to maintain. The water features are designed to compliment the property, serving as an aesthetic element. Unfortunately, the initial design of water feature is crucial to the proper function; but more often than not a lake maintenance company I snot consulted prior to the design and build. Still, lake maintenance professionals accept this and can move forward effectively, knowing how the design will affect the functionality.

Typically, the association or property management company personnel responsible for the maintenance of the onsite water features have a ton of other responsibilities. When you’re put in charge of maintaining a man-made body of water, building a relationship with your professional lake maintenance company will relieve your burden, making your task less strenuous.

Example: your water feature has strange, slimy globs of green matter covering the surface. There are huge mats of bizarre grass floating up from the bottom. The water is pea soup green. The pumps have ceased functioning. A large number of fish are either dead or dying. The waterfall has ceased functioning and the one remaining pump is making strange noises.

As the person in charge of the water feature, you may not know much about the details of maintenance or the source of these problems. But, if you’ve established a relationship with a lake maintenance company you can trust them to handle the situation quickly and efficiently – with your property’s interests in mind.

Lake maintenance professionals are trained to help solve and, more importantly, to prevent problems such as the one provided in the example above. Chances are if you’re the person in charge of your community’s water features, you also have a load of other responsibilities and slimy green globs over the surface of your body of water are likely the last item of business you want to think about. A proactive relationship with lake maintenance professionals will prevent you from ever reaching that slimy state of headache.

Working in conjunction with the person responsible for the management of a water feature and the board of directors, the lake maintenance professional not only sustains the water quality but also brings items that need repair to the attention of the board, usually via the management company. The management company submits the recommendation for repair to the board, which is approved, denied, or tabled. Many times the problem is while the board did hire a reputable lake maintenance company they did not budget for repair or replacements.

With manmade water features, the problem could be brewing months before the unsightly results surface. Too often lake maintenance companies are called in to “fix” an unsightly problem, and to do so immediately. Unfortunately, the true restoration or repair of a water feature involves time and patience. It took time to reach the unsightly state and it will take time for it to repair. In order to avoid those unsightly situations, the proactive solution is: budget and reserve planning coupled with a regularly scheduled maintenance program.

Problem prevention starts with budgeting. Your lake maintenance professional can assist your budgeting and planning. Lake maintenance companies are hired for their experience and knowledge – but they’re not just a “fix it” team. Of course, they are knowledgeable about restoration; but, also, they’re knowledgeable about prevention. As a member of a property management company, you can contact them during your planning stages to get a grasp on which prevention or regular maintenance schedules are needed throughout the year – this will help you prevent larger, unsightly and much more expensive problems from occurring.

This does mean there won’t be problems; instead, this means there will be solutions. Lake maintenance professionals can provide you solutions for recovery and prevention. They have the field service technicians who do the actual work. These technicians know the approaches to take in the treatment and restoration of the water and what to do in the event of a float valve, pump, filter, coupling, or fill valve malfunction. Their office personnel are trained to assist in times of trouble, offer solutions, and keep the lines of communication open.

The lake, pond, or stream maintenance provider who implements your maintenance program should be a professional. The company should be able to provide proof of experience through verifiable, long-term references; as well as proof of licenses, permits, general liability, workman’s compensation, and vehicle insurance. If you want to keep your body of water healthy and balanced, using a professional of good repute, regular maintenance of aeration, the filtration, the pumps, the aquatic plants, the water, and the pest control is vital.

Once you find a company with these qualifications, you are on your way to enjoying a headache-free approach to maintaining your body of water.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature, Pond Maintenance, Lake Maintenance.

Chlorine’s Criminal Chemistry

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


Lakes are not Chlorine-friendly! Neither are natural ponds nor streams. A misconception when hiring a water feature maintenance professional is to assume that all are capable of performing the same maintenance procedures, that couldn’t be more contrary.

Pool maintenance professionals are entirely different from lake maintenance professionals. Though both require an understanding of how pumps work adn the way water flows through those systems, the pump hydraulics for pools versus lakes are entirely diverse. More importantly chemicals crucial to pool maintenance, such as chlorine, can be devastating to lakes, ponds, and streams- and can destroy their ecosystem. In fact, it is a federal crime to use certain products in lake, stream, or pond environment.

For the sake of explanation, it can be contrasted that while pool maintenance professionals require knowledge of chemistry, lake maintenance professionals require knowledge of biology. Pool maintenance professionals know which chemicals will provide a clean, sterile environment for a swimming pool but they do not understand the self-contained biology inherent within lakes, ponds, or streams. Lake maintenance professionals, unlike pool maintenance professionals, are required to work in conjunction with the biology of the water feature’s ecosystem. Consequentially, lake maintenance professionals understand the importance of sunlight and photosynthesis, the relevance of aquatic plant life and the ecology of the fish living in these environments.

Pool maintenance professionals have no need to understand this sort of biology. Pools do not sustain their own ecosystem. Fish do not reproduce or die in pools. Aquatic plant life does not grow or present situations of overgrowth. Run-off from drainage systems does not affect the biology of pools. Pools do not present the problem of unseen sludge or weed growing at the base of the water feature. Lakes, ponds, and streams however do present these circumstances and as a result require maintenance by a trained and licensed lake maintenance contractor.

When hiring a maintenance professional for lakes, ponds, or streams it is important to ask questions to ensure the contractor possess appropriate knowledge and the proper license. Law requires lake maintenance of professionals to undergo extensive training before they receive their license. They are further required to complete hours of extended education, stay updated on environmental regulations and maintain an awareness of the clean water act guidelines in order to sustain their license.

Pool maintenance professionals are experienced in maintaining features with clear water and smooth bottoms that can be easily vacuumed. Pools are small bodies of sterile water with roughly 15,000 gallons of water. Lake maintenance requires an entirely different approach. The chemistry of pool maintenance is not relevant when maintaining a lake, stream, or pond. Federal Environmental Protection Agency laws regulate which chemicals can be used in the maintenance of lake systems.

Property owners and hiring managers need to be aware of the differences between pool and lake maintenance to prevent the liabilities associated with mistakenly hiring a pool maintenance professional rather than a qualified and licensed lake maintenance professional.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature, Pond Maintenance, Lake Maintenance.

Designing a Moment of Clarity

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


All it takes is a single glance to fully appreciate the value of any beautiful land or waterscape, a single moment of calm clarity provoked by the trees or water.

Lakes, ponds, or streams like the ones that exist in apartment communities, condominiums, and golf courses are built and maintained specifically for the appreciation of the community residents.

Properties are beautifully designed with running streams, cascading ponds, and captivating lakes. But, while it only takes a single and instant moment to enjoy the value of these beautifully constructed environments, it takes much longer than a simple moment to design, plan and build these water features. Even more time consuming is the maintenance necessary to sustain the placid beauty of any lake, pond, or stream once it has been constructed.

Unfortunately, regardless of the fact that the initial design of a water feature is crucial to its proper function and sustainability over time, more often than not a lake maintenance company is not consulted prior to the design of a water feature. Experienced lake maintenance professionals can accept this hindrance and move forward effectively maintaining the water features once built; still, simple considerations during the design stages can effectively limit problematic situations saving both maintenance time and expenditure in the many years following construction.

Being that the design of a water feature is crucial to its proper function, maintenance issues should be considered during the initial design stages to prevent problematic situations from arising post-construction. Planning ahead will limit the water features’ time and budget consuming situations and allow the feature to maintain its tranquil appeal all year long, year after year. A few key factors that should be considered when initially designing a water feature are: surrounding landscape, proper equipment, and dimensions of the feature itself.

It is reckless to ignore these factors during the initial design stage (prior to construction), as they will have a huge affect on the overall functionality of any lake, pond, or stream. The following sections will identify and elaborate on these factors that, if considered generous amount of time and money in the long run.

Snub the Shrubs!

It’s apparent that a water feature- be it a lake, pond, or stream- adds a beautiful finishing touch to any landscape design. Plants and water are purposefully placed in close proximity to provide soothing experiences for eyes, ears, and souls the admirers. The combination of land plants and water features enhance the overall beauty and setting, providing a peaceful environment.

Ironically, the most commonly overlooked factor when designing a water feature is landscaping- and, how the surrounding plant life will affect the functionality of the water feature.

The surrounding landscape should be considered when designing a waterscape. It is the simplest of considerations and one that will very easily prevent expensive problematic circumstances from unfolding in the years that follow construction.

Land plants at the edge of the water are the greatest source of potential problems for any water feature. On paper it seems like a great idea to design a water feature with plants around the water features’ edge; however, land plants are often placed too close to the water and can actually destroy the aquatic environment. Material from land plants falling in to the water adds an immense addition of nutrients and nitrogen to the biology of the water feature creating potential for unsightly problems.

The biggest landscape problem for lake maintenance is deciduous trees and shrubs hanging over the water. Common plants that are planted right at the waters edge provide a problematic dynamic are: Bougainvillea, Weeping Willows, Pepper Trees, Magnolias, and Jacarandas. These plants are constantly reproducing and shedding in to the water features. They encourage major problems because they drop so much material in to the water.

It is certainly true that land plants provide a beautiful scene when placed near the edge of the water but they should be planted near (not directly on) the edge. A simple solution is to set plants back just slightly. When designing and building the waterscape, the plants should be pushed back so they don’t hang over the water; design precaution should be taken to ensure that land plants could be pruned back if over time they sway in the direction of the water.

Eliminating the potential for abundant material waste from land plants falling in to the water is the most effective way to eliminate future aquatic troubles. Designing the water feature with plants and shrubs set back from the edge is by far the most simple solution to some of the most plaguing issue in water feature maintenance. Ideally, the dynamic between land and waterscape should be considered at the design phase- before the water feature is built!

There is no reason to ignore this factor during the design stages, it cost no additional funds to simply set plants back from the water. Further, it’s guaranteed to save time, money, and maintenance stress in the years post construction.

Equip the Ecosystem!

Because water features develop their own ecosystems, the maintenance of waterscapes requires some general knowledge of biology to understand the underlying issues behind lake, pond, or stream maintenance.

Lakes, ponds, and streams are landscape-imbedded water features that develop their own ecosystem and become a united piece of the landscaping. There is much more to maintaining these water features than just clearing the leaves- the equipment needs to function alongside the features’ own ecosystem to seamlessly maintain its aesthetic appeal.

A second factor to be considered when designing any body of water is the quality and placement of technical equipment. Quality should never be compromised during the initial design! Skimmers, strainer baskets plumbing, pumps, aerators, and filtration systems need to be up to par to prevent the need for constant repairs and maintenance down the road.

Material debris from land plants in the water (as discussed in the previous section) creates an even heightened dilemma when quality of filtration equipment is compromised. Any issues related to excess trees, shrubs, leaves, adding material, and nutrients to the water feature will provide a more devastating effect if the proper equipment is not fit to handle the situation.

At the design phase of a project, it may seem that compromising quality will save money but for the sake of longevity and sustainability of the water feature over time, quality should never be compromised. In the long run, you will end up paying all that you saved and likely much more.

In addition to ensuring quality equipment is installed, it is more important to ensure that these quality systems are installed with the features’ size, biology, and surrounding environment in mind. Although the water features themselves are man-made, they will be functioning within the surrounding natural environment. Proper positioning relative to the surrounding environmental conditions is an important consideration when designing a water feature.

A skimmer/ strainer, for example, is designed to collect the debris and keep the water clean but if it is placed in the incorrect position it will not properly serve its purpose. Positioning skimmer on the correct side of the water feature, where it is on the receiving end of the wind, will allow the equipment to do its job capturing the debris and keeping it off the face of the water. This will prevent a visually displeasing mess on the surface; more importantly, it will also prevent that messy load of plant material from sinking to the bottom where it can decompose and cause more complex issues.

Designing lakes, ponds, and streams with quality technical equipment that works alongside the biology of the feature and its surrounding environment is helpful in the long-term sustainability and maintenance of the feature.

Design with Depth!

A third key factor to be considered is the actual dimensional construction of the water feature- and how photosynthesis will affect those dimensions. A lot goes on under the surface of a water feature. When initially designing a water feature it is important to understand what occurs under the water surface and to provide room for those happenings to occur.

For example, a pond’s “cycle of life” beings with plants. Through photosynthesis plants (commonly algae) convert elements (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) in to organic material- or simply, “food”. All life in a pond is completely dependent upon the photosynthetic process for “food”, and therefore life.

Photosynthesis is the basic concept to be considered when performing maintenance on lakes, ponds, or streams. Green plants and algae use photosynthesis to convert nutrients in to usable materials so they may grow, flower, and reproduce. Energy from sunlight drives this process of photosynthesis by using elements like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, phosphate, and iron to create new plant growth and oxygen.

In many cases, water features are not built with enough depth to provide a place for the underwater happenings to properly occur. Ponds, for example, are often built too shallow in which cases that allow sunlight to directly reach the bottom of the feature and encourage unwanted aquatic plant and algae growth.

It is important to keep the algae in check in order to prevent algal blooms which can deplete the water of oxygen that the fish need to survive. If the water in your pond has less than two feet of visibility through the water, there is too much algae- indicating the danger of a destructive bloom.

When building a water feature there are no absolute rules as to depth but the feature is easier maintained when the process of photosynthesis is considered. Deeper water will always have a tendency to remain clear of unwanted growth. In general, plants will have a hard time growing at levels beyond six or eight feet of depth.

Man-made lakes, ponds, or streams are designed to compliment the surrounding landscape, serving as an imbedded aesthetic element instantly creating a uniquely serene ambiance. The water features work in conjunction with the landscaping to provide a naturally beautiful setting. The location and type of all land plants and trees as well as the type of water features are planned with precision to provide the most appealing environment.

To the casual observer, it may appear that these beautiful displays of nature are self-maintained within their own ecosystems. However, the simplicity of their maintenance is not as straightforward as the simplicity of their beauty. Once a waterscape plan is implemented and the features become a living part of the property, the maintenance is crucial to sustaining the aesthetic integrity and appeal. Lakes, ponds, and streams are living, growing ecosystems that require regular maintenance.

The initial design of any water feature hugely affects its overall functionality and the ease of its maintenance. A waterscape that has been designed with the surrounding landscape, proper equipment, and dimensions of the feature itself in mind will lend itself more easily to maintenance and sustainability over time. If feasible, it is best to consult a lake maintenance company for input during the initial design phase of a waterscape project. Consulting a waterscape professional (and considering the factors that will affect the waterscapes functionality) before the lake, pond, or stream during the design phase is the easiest way to save time and money in the long run.

An experienced lake maintenance company posses the knowledge of waterscape biology and the experience necessary to spot any potential problems and quickly provide logistical, effective solutions so that the aesthetic appeal of the waterscape is not compromised by recurring problematic situations. Consulting a waterscape maintenance company during the design stages will help retain the long term value of your investment, and so seamlessly achieve the intended purpose of any waterscape feature: continuously providing simple moments of refreshing beauty to all community members.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature, Pond Maintenance, Lake Maintenance.

Enhancing the Appeal of Lakes, Ponds, and Water Features

The Value of Lakes and Water Features

Lakes, ponds, and water features bring an aesthetic value to our lives and can increase the value of our property. Properly maintained, a water feature will enrich the lives of those that experience it, provide for a tranquil break from an otherwise bustling day and enhance the property on which it resides.

Issues that Affect Water Quality

There are many things and issues that can adversely a water feature and diminish it’s aesthetic and commercial value. During the winter months, the natural processes that break down contaminants such as leaves, algae, bird waste, and others slows down and cannot keep up with the onslaught of these things entering the body of water. In addition, rainfall brings nitrogen and the runoff brings fertilizers into the water. All of these serves to upset the pH balance (relative acidity/ alkalinity) of the water, having a negative effect on the ability of the microorganisms present in the water to break down these contaminants.

Maintenance of Water Features, Lakes, and Ponds

To control the deleterious effects of these contaminants, one should begin treatment of the pond or water features in the late Winter and Spring, so that by the time summer comes around, the balance of the water is ensured and the aesthetic properties of the water feature are at their best.

In the summer, the added heat and sunlight contribute to the growth of unsightly aquatic weeds and algae. Not only do these affect the beauty of the water itself, they cause irritating odors that also detract from the beauty and aesthetics of the water feature.

In order to mitigate this growth and maximize the beauty of the feature, an aggressive treatment plan must be implemented during late winter or spring so that the maintenance program is well in place by the time summer comes around. This plan must include:

  1. removal or filtering of organic matter
  2. chemical treatment to adjust the pH of the water
  3. adding dyes to decrease the depth of sunlight penetration
  4. circulation of the water to increase the amount of oxygen in the water and even out it’s distribution. It may also be necessary to dredge the lake or pond to deepen it, install mechanical filters and pumps and control urban runoff coming into the water feature.

Conclusion

In order to properly treat a lake, pond, or water feature, it is important to consult and contract with a company that specializes in maintaining these and has the experience to properly do so. There are many things to consider, such as size of the feature, volume of water in the pond or lake, proper pumps and filters for the specific feature, working knowledge of pH, chemicals and oxygen balance, and many more considerations.

Given the initial cost of constructing the feature, this is not a job to be left to less experienced companies. Diversified Waterscapes has been specializing in this filed for well over 30 years. We continually strive to improve our knowledge and methods, keeping up with the latest in industry innovations and scientific research. Our goal is to exceed our customers expectations, every time. We invite you to call.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature, Lake Maintenance, Pond Maintenance.

How a Basic Understanding of Biology can help you Maintain a Beautiful Waterscape

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


It takes only a single refreshing moment to fully appreciate the value of a beautiful lake, stream or pond; just one moment to enjoy the simple pleasure provoked by the beauty of a placid, well-maintained waterscape.

Any beautiful waterscape adds a uniquely, uplifting ambiance to its community. Lakes, streams, or ponds like the ones that exist in apartment communities, condominiums, and golf courses are built, filled, and sustained specifically for enjoyment and appreciation of the residents and clientele. The water features are designed to compliment the property, serving as an imbedded aesthetic element. The beautifully landscaped streams, cascading ponds, and capturing lakes have been planned with this precision to provide the most appealing vision to the community that surrounds them, and the people in it.

To the casual observer, it may appear that water features are self-maintained within their own ecosystems. However, the simplicity of their maintenance is not as straightforward as the simplicity of their beauty. Once a waterscape plan is implemented and the features become a living part of the property, the maintenance is crucial to sustaining the aesthetic integrity and appeal. Streams, ponds, and lakes are living, growing ecosystems that require regular maintenance. Without regular routine inspections the ecosystems begin to stray far enough and will ultimately experience epic ecological failure. With a basic understanding of a water feature’s ecosystem and biology, the root of any aquatic problem can be identified and a workable solution can be quickly and easily implemented by a waterscape professional.

The management of waterscapes requires some general knowledge regarding the biology of ecosystems; it is needed to understand the underlying forces behind stream, pond, and lake maintenance. Photosynthesis is the basic concept to be considered when performing maintenance on streams, ponds, or lakes. Green plants and algae use photosynthesis to convert nutrients into usable materials so they may grow, flower, and reproduce. Energy from sunlight drives the process of photosynthesis by using elements like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, phosphate and iron to create new plant growth and oxygen. All ecosystems operate best when there is a balance between the elements that go in to the system and the products released from the same system.

Balance is key to management. Understanding the photosynthetic process will provide the ability to gauge the natural fluctuation within an ecosystem – providing the ability to make predictions regarding the balance of any water feature. Waterscape maintenance is not by any means an overwhelming task. With the appropriate guidance and knowledge from a group of waterscape maintenance professionals, the task of maintaining visually pleasing water features is a simple series of procedures driven by understanding of basic biology. It is important to select a waterscape maintenance group that will successfully understand the biological needs associated with the maintenance of your specific water features.

An incorrect correlation is often made between the maintenance of natural aquatic ecosystems and the maintenance of swimming pools. These landscape-imbedded water features – streams, ponds, or lakes – become a united piece of the landscaping. They are not merely large swimming pools that can be maintained using a similar pool maintenance strategy. You cannot get by skimming the surface; there is much more to maintenance than just clearing the leaves. A biological understanding of the waterscapes and their ecological elements is necessary. When selecting your waterscape maintenance professional make certain that this issue is addressed; the maintenance of pool and spa features is very different from that of lakes, streams, or ponds.

Diversified Waterscapes, Inc. (DWI) is a group of dedicated professionals who deal with water features on a daily basis; they posses the knowledge of waterscape biology and the experience necessary to spot any potential problems and quickly provide logistical, effective solutions so that the aesthetic appeal of your waterscape continues to serve your community’s members beautifully. DWI will handle all the maintenance so that the waterscapes can continue serving their purpose of providing those simple moments of refreshing beauty to all who view and enjoy them.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature.

It's Just Water, Right?

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


It’s natural, it’s pretty, so why is it so much work to keep a water feature looking that way?

Water is pretty basic stuff- it’s just a liquid made up of hydrogen and oxygen and in its pure state, that’s all it is- but in nature, water picks up lots of dissolved and suspended substances. Lakes, streams, and ponds all become contaminated through rain, wind, run-off, and even illegal dumping. Fertilizer runoff and even grass clippings blown into the water can affect the pH balance and contribute to rapid growth of algae and nuisance weeds. This leads to odor, unsightliness, and an overall loss of visual appeal.

Maintaining a water feature is even more challenging within a man-made environment. When contaminants enter a cement basin or other artificial containment, there is no natural ecosystem to cleanse the water and maintain a natural balance.

Water treatment products are often the first step. Products such as chlorine enzymes, chelated copper sulfate penta hydrate, and alum are used to treat algae and sludge. Clarifiers will take the murkiness out of water and colorants are used to shade bodies of water a more natural blue. All of these and more are used to shade bodies of water a more natural blue. All of these and more are used to retard the growth of algae, slow down the progression of biological contamination, clear up murky water and maintain a natural appearing blue color.

A highly refined double chelated copper sulfate penta hydrate is the most effective product for controlling many forms of algae. When used according to directions, this product will not harm fish or aquatic plant life and will not raise copper levels in the water. Once the algae has been lowered, a biological can be used to reduce sludge.

Clarifiers such as flocculants act like magnets and can be used to remove the suspended silt, some types of algae, dead organic matter and dust. They “latch” onto these floating and/ or suspended particles and cause them to drop to the bottom of your aquatic environment.

Dyes, while coloring your water feature and making it more pleasing to the eye also block some of the UV rays, retarding the growth of algae and aquatic plants, which need sunlight to grow. Used properly, dyes are not a threat to fish or humans. the pH (acidity and alkalinity) is monitored and manipulated to ensure the manmade water feature is as close to “natural” as possible.

Good filters and aeration are essential to helping to retard the growth of algae and the proper oxygenation of your water feature. The size and layout of your water feature will help determine the number, position, and sizes of the aeration and filtration systems.

About every five years, it is wise to drain the water feature, remove the properly dispose of the sludge and then refill your water feature with fresh water.

There are all kinds of tools available, but none are a solution within themselves. You will want to: provide aeration, adequate circulation, good filtration, manage nutrient levels, regular physical maintenance, biologically condition the water with plants, fish and invertebrates, perform pest control as needed, and adjust the suspended solids and organic content with the use of equipment and approved chemicals. But keeping everything looking natural takes work to stay that way- the best approach is to hire a specialist who will work with you to restore a natural balance to your lake, pond, or stream.

And regular attention is a must! Neglect is the worst enemy of water features. Maintenance is needed regardless of the size or type of water feature.

This is why there are aquatic maintenance specialists. We aren’t cleaning pools; we are establishing and maintaining a delicate natural balance and keeping highly visible bodies of water looking (and smelling) good, year after year.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance.

Keeping Water Features Clean

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


As important as water is to modern life and recreation, its amazing the average American knows so little about it. Water is simply a solvent; a liquid (between 32° and 212°F) made up of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. The only “pure” water on earth is found in the cooling tubes of distilling or desalinization devices.

Phosphates, nitrogen, organic material, oils and minute plant life are the “villains” in water. By learning more about the contaminants water can carry we can protect it.

In natural conditions, factors exist that protect water by keeping it cooler, buffering chemical reactions and speeding up breakdown of foreign materials that enter it. Because natural environments, no equilibrium exists to fight contaminants.

In lieu of natural counterbalances, we fight back by adding products formulated to slow down the progression of biological contaminations. We manipulate pH (acidity and alkalinity) to make sure the additives effectively block contaminants. We run filters and periodically remove visible contaminants from the surface. We attempt to block sunlight to organisms that use sunlight and chlorophyll to grown.

We need to be more cognizant of natural processes and the methods we can use to combat the negative effect nature can bring to a water feature. Preventative approaches(also known as a proactive stance) should have a higher daily priority.

Nowadays many people have a high degree of sensitivity to the word “chemical.” Unfortunately, some customers assume that anything that comes out of a bottle is a chemical. While that is technically true (water is also a chemical compound), some materials act not as chemical reactants but as influencers of natural reactions.

Dyes, a popular chemical in cleaners, block sunlight from algae and aquatic plants, which need sunlight to grow. Clarifiers, another chemical, are like magnets. They latch on to floating or suspended contaminants (silt, algae, dead organic matter and dust) and make them so heavy they fall to the bottom.

Alga is a nuisance that is probably the most familiar to you. You’ve seen it – the pea-soup-green look in your water feature or the slimy, stringy, dark green stuff you see at the rocks and the lake bottom. Algae can’t grow if nutrients aren’t present. But as we already know, there usually are nutrients present in water. While there are claims that bacteria can control algae, it is most commonly used in conjunction with a specifically formulated copper product. These copper products are chemicals that are commonly known and just as commonly misunderstood. Used wisely and according to directions, a good algae control product will not farm fish or plant life and will serve to act as a “balance” by limiting the growth of algae. The end result is water habitat that has a controlled algae growth that fish can hide in and feed on.

Remember, neglect is the worst enemy of water features. Maintenance is your ally. Aeration and circulation need to be in place and kept in proper working order, as water should be well circulated. Chemicals can’t make up for inadequate aeration and circulation. Skimmer baskets should be emptied daily in order to prevent debris from trees, turf and ornamentals falling into the aquatic environment and creating havoc with the pumps and the overall appearance of your feature.

Bottom line: The proper care of your water feature will bring results that are pleasing to the eye (it will look great), the nose (no odor to offend) and the ear (properly maintained pumps will keep those waterfalls and water moving). And who would not enjoy an aesthetically pleasing aquatic environment?

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Water Feature.

Lake, Stream, & Pond Management

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF WATER

When considering water in its role within your lake or water feature, it is important to know your facts. It is unrealistic to view water as a purely aesthetic entity without understanding its properties. It is necessary to know the basic facts about man-made lakes, streams, or ponds in order to understand the need for a proper water management professional and/ or system.

Water is a liquid made up of hydrogen and oxygen. In its pure state it is only that. In its usual state it is the vehicle for a myriad of dissolved or suspended elements making their way into lakes, streams, or ponds through run off, illegal dumping, and other natural events.

Phosphates, nitrogen, organic materials, oils, and minute plant life can bond together to create food for algae, slime on the water’s surface, unsightly nuisance odor causing algae, etc. There are pluses and minuses to these elements. As organisms die they become nutrients for other aquatic organisms, which can cause self-perpetuating problems.

Highly fertilized turf around lakes, streams, or ponds can cause detrimental effects due to run-off. Grass, clippings, and wind-blown debris find a “home” in the water features thus contributing to an unbalanced pH reading, rapid growth of nuisance weeds, and algae, odors, unsightliness, and an aquatic environment that has lost it’s aesthetic appeal.

As all superintendents know protecting your water feature is more challenging when it is inherent and totally exposed to the elements. When contaminants enter a man-made lake or pond contained within its gummite, cement, or other “unnatural” basin, there is no natural ecosystem place to set forth the equilibrium that causes natural lakes and streams to maintain a balance thereby thriving. Nature is not in place to fight back against man-made contaminants.

OVERVIEW OF TOOLS

In place of natural counterbalances, we use products, experience and knowledge to combat the common problems of contaminants, pollution, algae, weeds, odor, and an unsightly appearance. A variety of methods are used in order to mimic the natural balance.

Water treatment products are used. Products such as chlorine, enzymes, chelated copper sulfate penta hydrate, and alum are among some of the products used in the treatment of algae and sludge. Flocculants are used to clarify and colorants are used to shade bodies of water in a more natural blue. All of these are more used to retard the growth of algae, slow down the progression of biological contamination, clear up murky water, and bring to your feature to a natural appearing blue color.

Clarifiers (flocculants which are like magnets) are used to remove the suspended silt, some types of algae, dead organic matter, and dust. They “latch” onto these floating and/ or suspended particles and overnight will cause them to drop to the bottom of your aquatic environment.

Dyes, while coloring your water feature and making it more pleasing to the eye can also retard the growth of algae and aquatic plants, which need sunlight to grow as they block some of the UV rays. Without sunlight, plants can’t produce chlorophyll, which means carbohydrates, the food needed by plants to grow, are not produced. Used properly, dyes are not a threat to fish or humans.

A highly refined double chelated copper sulfate penta hydrate (which is still the most effective product for controlling algae) is used to gain control of various types of algae. This product, when used according to directions, will not harm fish or aquatic plant life, will retard and help you to gain control over unsightly algae and will enable you to attend to more important matters than complaints pertaining to the water quality. Again, when used properly this product is environmentally friendly and will not raise copper levels in the water. We also recommend that once the algae is at the level of control desired you make use of a biological to keep the sludge reduced. Note: Copper sulfate has received a very bad reputation of late due to its misuse and subsequent adverse effect on the aquatic environment. But, when you use a double chelated copper, you are using the safest and gentlest of the copper products.

The pH (acidity and alkalinity) is monitored and manipulated to ensure the man-made water feature is as close to “natural” as possible.

Good filters are aeration are essential to helping to retard the growth of algae and the proper oxygenation of your water feature. The size and layout of your water feature should be factored into the decision regarding the number, position, and sizes of the aeration and filtration systems.

Approximately every five (5) years, sometimes longer, it is wise to drain the water feature, remove and dispose of the sludge (after testing determines it is legal to dispose of) them to refill your water feature with fresh water.

COMMON PROBLEMS:

ALGAE

Algae is a simple plant, with names you might recognize such as planktonic, filamentous, macrophytic, pithophora, spirogyra, and chara (to name a few). Algae clogs streams, filters, pumps, and aeration, makes your water feature look and smell unappealing and can choke the life out of an improperly treated aquatic environment.

When controlled one of algae’s many functions is to help maintain the natural balance of life cycles. Algae will also provide safety zone or, depending on the type of algae, a habitat for fish. As we humans have disrupted the natural order of things by creating man-made lakes, treating them improperly, or totally eradicating all aquatic plant life these single-celled organisms and other nuisance plants consider this an open invitation to linger and multiply or completely die off (in essence killing your water feature). Balance is the vital key to a thriving and appealing aquatic environment.

Algae is also one of the main points of contention of superintendents and homeowners. This is why it is so important to use a reputable aquatic maintenance company who will bring all elements of treatment to the table and wholly treat, repair, and eliminate problems. Aeration, filtration, physical maintenance, biological conditioning, and pest prevention are the ingredients needed for a aesthetically pleasing, flourishing aquatic feature. Combining all of these components your aquatic environment will truly be something to be proud of and a source of enjoyment to golfers, residents, visitors, and superintendents alike.

Algae is selectively to mild concentrations of copper sulfate in bodies of water. The effectiveness of algaecides depends upon the ability of the copper to reach and stay in the vicinity of the algae. As previously stated, chelated copper algaecides are notably more effective.

Once the copper has “killed” the algae, there must be adequate oxygen in the water to permit rapid decomposition of the algae as bacteria assists in decomposition. When oxygen is lacking in the water, the bacteria’s ability to break the algae down is restricted. (Anaerobic bacteria can continue to break the algae down, but in the process they release a detectable, sulfur gas.)

Aeration and circulation will improve the oxygen content of the lake water. Beneficial bacteria are commercially available to provide reinforcements for your lake’s bacteria. However, they will require oxygen too in order to do their job.

Finally, algae, needs light to carry out photosynthesis, which enables them to grow and reproduce. Dyes can be mixed with the lake water to shade out sunlight and to rob the algae of their ability to carry on photosynthesis.

Double chelated algae control products used properly are not harmful to beneficial bacteria, water fowl, plant life, or fish.

WEEDS

Weeds are another natural byproduct of an aquatic ecosystem. Chemical methods of weed control are more practical and cost effective than weed removal or mechanical harvesting as these methods employ the use of equipment and extra manpower. Chemical treatments are handled by a professional, in a relatively short amount of time, when applied on a regular basis.

Chemicals used in algae and weed control have to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and your state environmental agency. They must be applied by a licensed, certified applicator that has been trained in weed identification, proper use, and ability to determine the appropriate dose for a particular lake (or an applicator working under the license of this person).

FOAM

Foam caused by soaps and dead organic material can also be a problem. De-foamers and bacterial de-clarifiers are common combatants to foam but chlorine may reduce their effectiveness. Circulation and filtration, when properly maintained and run on a frequent basis to permit sufficient oxygenation and the filtration process, can lower the amount of foam and floating debris.

THE SEASONS

From fish decomposition to the heat of summer, each season brings its own unique brand of hazards to a lake and or water feature. It is important to be aware of the new set of problems each change of weather brings.

Fall, in one word, speaks for itself. Falling leaves, falling bark, new growth, bringing with it trimmings, and clippings being dumped into the water feature all of which contributes to unbalance and overload once your beautiful aquatic environment. This means more work for anyone maintaining your water features.

Winter usually brings blessed relief from algae, but also brings run-off from rain (rainfall contains a surprising amount of nitrogen picked up from the atmosphere. Runoff caused by rainfall also moves fertilizers and debris from the watershed into the lake. Rainfall can also change the chemical balance (pH) of water bodies), overflowing drains, over watered landscape, fish kills (due to lack of oxygen) and decaying matter, thereby overloading the water feature with phosphorus, nitrogen, nutrients, and fertilizers. The process of biodegradation slows dramatically during winter months.

Spring brings the thaw, which also brings run-off coupled with debris and dirt and starts to heat up your water feature bringing with that glorious sun a bit of algae bloom and murky water. Lake health can depend upon springtime renovation. The goal of springtime renovation is to bring equilibrium back to the water feature before the high summer temperatures hit resulting in the rapid growth of algae and aquatic weeds.

Summertime, which brings to mind fun at the lake, beach, or golf course, also brings in a host of problems. The heat from the sun starts that wonderful process known as photosynthesis and gives a raging jump start to start algae growth and nuisance aquatic weeds. In some cases aquatic weeds, diatoms and Lyngbia will grow where they have never been seen or grown before. Your once beautiful aquatic environment will now be covered with algae of all types. This algae will look unsightly, smell bad, bring fear into the hearts of swimmers, and all but engulf the golf balls your golfers are attempting to retrieve. Your maintenance crew will tire more quickly (when in extremely high temperatures) and sometimes feel as if that invasive algae is winning the battle while all their concerted efforts are falling by the wayside. But, fear not the battle can and will be won. The season will end and the cycle of seasons, replete with their own problems, will begin again.

Just remember, your aquatic specialist knows about these seasonal idiosyncrasies and how to treat them. The applicator’s goal is to bring balance and beauty to your water features and keep the “heat” off you. They are devoted to the beautification of your aquatic environment and desire to keep it attractive on a year round basis.

ALL OF THIS KNOWLEDGE IS GREAT BUT… WHAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN UNSIGHTLY LAKE, STREAM, OR POND?

Once aquatic plants gain a foothold, they are harder to control for a number of reasons. There are all kinds of tools but none are a solution within themselves. The best approach is to hire a specialist who will work with you to restore a natural balance to the lake.

You will want to: provide aeration circulation, good filtration, manage nutrient levels, schedule regular physical maintenance, biologically condition through the use of products, plants, fish, and invertebrates, establish and introduce a proper balance of fish species, perform pest control and adjust the suspended solids and organic content with the use of equipment and registered chemicals.

The trick is not to create a new problem by overloading one side of the equation. Nature is complex. You have to stay close to every job to really appreciate what it takes to avoid an aquatic imbalance. That’s why aquatic management is more complicated than it appears. Each individual water feature requires its own customized treatment program.

When looking for assistance with aquatic maintenance, first determine whether the individual is licensed by your state and possesses all the required applicator’s licenses and certification. Second, ask for proof of Worker’s Compensation and General Liability coverage (including performance bonds for large, complex jobs). Finally, ask for and check current and past references. Focus on job performance feedback at the time you invest now save you frustration and extra work later.

This is why there are aquatic maintenance specialists. We aren’t cleaning pools; we are establishing and maintaining a delicate natural balance and bringing the aesthetic appearance of your highly visible bodies of water to an appearance above and beyond your expectations.

Finally, regular attention is a must! Neglect is the worst enemy of water features. Maintenance is required regardless of the amount of use of your water feature gets and understanding the unique properties of your water feature will go a long way toward maintaining the beauty of your aquatic environment.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Lake Maintenance, Pond Maintenance, Water Feature.

Lowering Use of Copper Sulfate Without Losing Effectiveness

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, CEO of DWI


For years applicators have been using all forms of copper sulfate in attempts to control the growth of various species of alga. As we all desire to preserve our environment, most particularly the water, we have sought other products that are more environmentally friendly. We have double chelated the copper sulfate content of our products. We have tried everything from UV lighting, bacteria, and enzymes to barley straw. We’ve all heard the stories- we’ve tested their effectiveness and we’ve mostly gone back to what we know will work- copper sulfate.

In recent years our company began testing quite a few of these alternate products. The one obvious conclusion we came to is that the effectiveness of some of these products really depends on the percentage of active ingredients. Many claim to be effective, but in comparison testing, the products that are truly effective are the products with the higher percentage of active ingredient(s).

We are a company that was dead set against the new wave of bacteria and enzymes, as our field tests yielded no results. After five years of testing various bacteria, we found a strain of bacteria in a strength that actually produced results. Not only did it yield results, it reduced the amount of copper sulfate products needed.

In our testing we found a bacteria level that seemed to “boost” the effectiveness of copper sulfate, thereby reducing the use of chemicals. To us this was a “win, win” combination that we pursued with more filed testing.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance.