Posts filed under Pond Maintenance

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.


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.

Lake, Stream, & Pond Management

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI


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.


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.



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 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 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.


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.


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.

Shallow Water Management

This was compiled to aid others when seeking information on the principles that govern water quality of shallow lakes, ponds or water gardens. The emphasis is on recognizing, relating, and assimilating water conditions, along with strategies and solutions to maintain this valuable resource, for no lake was ever just water!

After establishing a goal for the water, I then review the “What” and “Why” for each water factor, along with the methods of maintenance or restoration. I hope that this information is adequate to evaluate issues and their impact on the aquatic ecosystems, with remedial alternatives needed before taking a course of action, and not relying on emotion or half-truths for guidance.

I look upon working with aquatic ecosystems as the most satisfying and enjoyable of pursuits, hobby… classify if you will. For me it is recreation, exercise, relaxation, and tranquility, all rolled into one.

I dedicate this to all the people whose work gave me some understanding of water chemistry and fisheries biology. It is their work that forms the basis for protecting, renovating and enhancing all water resources.


When I’m tired of the hustle-bustle of every day life, I go to the water’s edge and leave the day’s pressures behind. Life moves slower here. This is my cherished sanctuary, a place beyond time. Here I can reserve my choice of dreams and exit rejuvenated.

In my mind’s eye I seek an “unaltered natural environment”, but what is that? I’m not old enough to have seen what a natural environment was really like! I do know that lakes typically progress to an environment that favors plant life over animal life. So I look for that point in the aging process of a water body, where it has a great diversity of aquatic life. However reaching and maintaining this goal, I need to assistance mature.

What quality cannot be controlled without considering the use of the surrounding land. Everything I do on my street, in my driveway , and yard impacts the watershed. Human adoption and stewardship of the watershed leads to a more comprehensive, responsible, and cooperative means to limit water contaminants.

From the watershed come the inorganic materials (minerals from the soil) and the organic materials (decomposing plants and animals) providing essential elements for the living organisms. Inorganic and organic material along with photosynthesis (energy from the sun), are the building blocks of the natural cycle of growth, decay, and re-growth of the aquatic ecosystems.

The health of the food chain mirrors the health of the entire aquatic ecosystem. Each succeeding level of the food chain is dependent on the health of the level below it. Observing these aquatic biological communities gives a good indication of the long-term health of the water body. This is more fun for use than physical-chemical analysis however, only chemical analysis of constituents in the water can confirm the potential problems, such as loss of buffering capacity, low oxygen level, etc., and the presence of specific pollutants.

“Water bodies are a waste of precious water in this arid environment, with our recurring drought conditions.”

The annual difference in water usage between a body of water and a lawn area is about 35%. The use of water lilies and other aquatic plants will reduce evaporation by another 10%. By using good construction techniques, evaporation can be help to a minimum. Some of these techniques include 18-24 inches straight sides, wind breaks, and use of timers for fountains or waterfalls for when you’re outside to enjoy them.

Not only is this an erroneous assumption for good water use, but it fails to recognize the psychological benefits.

“Algae is often thought to be the greatest nuisance in water management.”

The real problem is excess nutrients in the water/ sediment. Algae is just an indicator of this condition. The use of aquatic vegetation to remove the nutrients from the water is more satisfying than looking at large populations of algae. The Herbicide Industries Marketing people have done an excellent job in convincing me that all aquatic vegetation were weeds. In their ads, everything is an aquatic weed, not an aquatic plant, and I believed it! I destroyed the aquatic vegetation, only to find that the natural law of succession decrees that when one species does or is destroyed, another will immediately rise to take its place, with no guarantee that the new life form will not be equally or more troublesome than the first!

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”  

This may be true for some things, but not water management. When I waited till the problem starts to hamper my enjoyment of the water, it was too late! I must know my water and plan ahead.

“Water lilies and water hyacinths are prolific, and are a notorious nuisance.”

The problem associated with water lilies and/ or water hyacinth have been greatly exaggerated. When used correctly, these plans are of great worth, controlling nutrients and providing visual enjoyment.



It is difficult to establish goals that will be supported by all who will come in contact with a water body. Every individual has his own personalized idea of what each water body should be.

But first ask some questions. Is the water body located in a urban, suburban, or rural community? Is it cold water, temperate water, or a warm body of water? Does the water have a soil-covered liner, clay, or concrete bottom? Does the water have a vegetated, or a concrete shore line? Does the water body have a watershed? If not, is its fill water from a private well? From a water district? Or is it reclaimed water? Do I want fish in the water? If so, what kind- sport, ornamental, or other? Will I want plants in the water? If so, what kind- marginal, submerged, or floating? Would I like a complete food chain ecosystem? Will swimming be allowed? All are possible!

With those questions answered, plans can be made that appeal to your aesthetic senses.

Federal and state laws have been enacted which establish the requirements for adequate planning, implementation, management, and enforcement for control of water quality. It is known as the “The Clean Water Act,” – 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The fundamental purpose of Federal and State laws is to protect the beneficial use of water. The Beneficial Use Definition, “(WARM) Warm Freshwater Habitat- Water, supports warm water ecosystems” is the area that this book addresses.



The availability or lack of these elements is essential for aquatic life!




  • A measurement of the buffering capacity of water which prevents sudden changes in pHAlkalinity levels of 25-120 ppm with pH values between 7.3 and 8 are recognized as the best for the support of diversified aquatic life.
  • Composed primarily of carbonate (CO3) and bicarbonate (HCO3). AlkalinitypH, and Hardness affect the toxicity of many substances in the water.


  • NH3
  • Ammonia decreases the ability of fish to take oxygen into the blood and can cause suffocation. Ammonia levels as low as 0.2 ppm can damage gills and central nervous system, reduce feeding, and lowers resistance to disease.
  • Present as ammonia the unionized (NH3) form which is extremely toxic to fish, and ammonium, the ionized (NH4) form.
  • Ammonia is produced by a bacteria (Heterotrophic) which consumes complex hydrocarbons (organic waste) derived from the breakdown of plant and protein cells. Ammonia levels are pHoxygen, and temperature dependent. (See Nutrient Cycle).

Carbon Dioxide:

  • CO2
  • Excess carbon dioxide can be stressful to fish at very high levels, as it hinders oxygen uptake and has a narcotic effect on fish behavior. Toxicity to carbon dioxide varies by fish type, water temperature and dissolved oxygencontent.
  •  CO2 is produced during respiration and consumed during photosynthesis. Carbon Dioxide levels fluctuate throughout the day, just opposite the oxygen level. Aquatic plants and algae absorb carbon dioxide when they give off oxygen, and give off carbon dioxide when they absorb oxygen.
  • Carbon dioxide has a beneficial effect by changing the pH needed for the Nitrogen Cycle. (See pH Time Line).


  • HCL2
  • -Toxic- A poison gas, that is 2½ times heavier than air, or as a poison liquid 1½ times heavier than water. As thepH increases, the toxicity of chlorine is reduced; i.e., pH 7.0 the CL2 is 75% effective; at pH 7.5 it is 48% effective; and at pH 8.0 it is only 22% effective.


  • NH2CL
  • -Toxic- A poison liquid, which contains 11.5-13% chlorine and ammonia.


  • A slight green color is an indicator of planktonic life. This indicates that there is a food source for the animals of the lower food chain.
  • For aesthetic reasons it is possible to use aquatic dye, formulated to add a aqua-blue-green shade to the color of the water. Psychologically, this makes it look cooler and more inviting. Caution: Don’t overdo it. Water needs some color/ turbidity to camouflage objects you don’t want to see.


  •  CU
  • Cupper exists in waters as a soluble salt. A small amount is essential for plants’ and animals’ growth. Coppershould not exceed tolerable limits, or use when alkalinity is less than 500 ppm.
  • Copper in the form of copper sulfate (CuCO4), has been used in acquiculture systems as an algaecide and a bactericide; however, even low levels can be toxic. (Use with caution.)
  • High pH and alkalinity levels will make complex forms of copper, reducing its toxicity. It is suggested that you usechelated copper compounds due to their larger band of tolerance

Tolerance for fish life only

Copper sulfate 8.88 ppm

Chelated copper 1.20 ppm

Dissolved Oxygen:

  • O2
  • Fish, invertebrates, plants, and aerobic bacteria all require oxygen for respiration. Oxygen requirements of fish vary with the species and age of the fish, prior acclimatization temperature, and concentrations of other substances in the water. The rule of thumb is 5.0 ppm. Dissolved oxygen levels affect ammonia and nitritetoxicity.
  • Oxygen dissolves readily into water from the atmosphere at the water surface interface, so surface area is more important than depth. Oxygen diffuses very slowly, and distribution depends on the circulation/ mixing of the water. Oxygen is also produced by aquatic plants and algae, as a by-product of photosynthesis.
  • The temperature effect on oxygen is compounded by the fact that living organisms increase their activity in warm water, thus requiring more oxygen to support their metabolism. Summer nights with decreased capacity and increased oxygen demand is the most critical time.
  • Dissolved oxygen capacity of water is limited by temperature, salinity, and atmospheric pressure/ altitude. These factors determine the potential level possible for 100% saturation. Actual dissolved oxygen divided by potential dissolved oxygen = % saturation.
  • Excess oxygen leaves water slowly. Sometimes oxygen levels exceed 100% saturation (supersaturation). This can be detrimental to fish production which is usually caused by rapid drop in temperature or high density algae growth (photosynthesis). Supersaturated daytime concentrations may suggest that nighttime concentrations ofoxygen may be unacceptable.
  • Aquatic plants and algae start to put oxygen into the water after sunrise, stopping at sundown. The aquatic plants and algae remove oxygen from the water, starting after sunset, and continuing till the next day’s sun. The best time to check oxygen and carbon dioxide levels is at daybreak. This is when the oxygen and pH are the lowest.
  • It is more cost effective to operate circulators, starting after the aquatic plants and algae start to take in oxygen. This will keep the water cooler in the summer as you are running circulators at the coolest time of the day and at the same time adding oxygen from the surface interface as it is being removed by respiration.


  • Soft water increases the sensitivity of fish to toxic materials, so some hardness is beneficial. However, excessive hardness in water can limit the Nutrient Cycle and other aquatic functions. Total hardness is defined as the concentration of calcium (CA2) and magnesium (MG2) in the water. Calcium is necessary for proper egg, bone, and tissue development of young fish. Hardness is closely related to alkalinity and pH.
  • Soft: 0-50
  • Moderately soft: 50-100
  • Slightly soft: 100-150
  • Moderately hard: 150-200
  • Hard: 200-350
  • Very hard: 350-up

Hydrogen Sulfide:

  • H2S
  • The source of hydrogen sulfide is sulfur compounds from decomposing organic matter in an oxygen-less environment. Hydrogen sulfide is soluble in water and is highly toxic.


  • Fe
  • Iron typically forms as a result of low oxygen and can be removed by circulation. Fish have a low tolerance to even low concentrations of iron.


  • NO2
  • Nitrite is toxic to fish. It reduces the red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen. Brown blood disease, a problem with catfish, is caused by toxic levels of nitrites, which can occur when salinity and oxygen levels are too low.

Sodium chloride – Nitrate Ratio:

  • A minimum of 6ppm sodium chloride for each ppm of nitrite should be present in water.
  • NO2 x 6 – salinity present = ppm salt needed
  • Acre feet x ppm salt needed x 4.55 = pounds salt required
  • Note: do not use iodized salt.

Nitrogen: See Nitrite

  • N
  • Nitrogen gas does not combine easily with other elements and cannot be used by most living things directly from the atmosphere. Nitrogen has from the atmosphere is fixed by bacteria (Azotobacter agilis) in the soil and water to form nitriteNitrite is changed by another bacteria into nitrateNitrate is used by plants and other animals. It goes through their system and is reduced into ammonia. The ammonia is changed by another bacteria into nitrite to go through the cycle over and over again. Nitrogen is essential to manufacture proteins that are vital for formation of new protoplasm in the cells. The bacterium that converts nitrogen through its cycle functions poorly below 60°F or with low oxygen levels.
  • Nitrogen itself must be above 100% saturation to be toxic. The atmosphere is 79% nitrogen which is 14.9ppm @ 68°F/29.9 at atmospheric pressure = 100% saturation.


  • The smell of rotten eggs indicates decaying organic material, hydrogen sulfide. A marsh odor is characteristic ofmethane. A fishy smell is associated with dead algae. The pigpen is an indication of blue greens.


  •  pH is a measurement of activity of hydrogen ions. pH controls the degree of dissociation of many substances. The greatest concern with pH is how it affects the toxicity of many other substances, and its effect on the NitrogenCycle. The test for pH should be at daybreak, for this is the time when the pH is the lowest. The optimum range for good water quality is 7.3 at daybreak – 8.0 at sundown.

Phosphorus: See Orthophosphate

  • P
  • Phosphorus is essential for bone formation and aquatic plant growth.


  • Pollution is a way of life, and must be faced squarely and dealt with on a continuing basis; you cannot just look the other way! Silt is one of the most serious problems in water management; even a small amount can smother fish eggs and other bottom life forms.
  • Like many others, I was faced with the “catch 22″ situation of using fertilizer on turf near water, with the fear that I was polluting the water, due to nitrogen leaching. Recent research has shown that very little nitrogen moves past the root-zone and the risk of pollution is much lower than originally though. Researchers have concluded that established landscapes’ own biological activity is able to use up to 99% of the applied nitrogen fertilizer. Less than 0.01ppm nitrogen moves past the root-zone.


  • PO4
  • Orthophosphate enters water bodies from industrial operations and sewage. Other sources are the decay of plants/ animals, with some deposition occurring from the atmosphere (100-300mg/square meter per year) as soil run-off. To reduce levels of Orthophosphate, focus on surface inputs. The largest source of Orthophosphate is detergent use in driveways. Excessive Orthophosphate can cause unwanted growth of algae, and will lead to a point where the water ceases to be enjoyable.
  • Orthophosphate, unlike nitrogen, will not percolate through soil; Orthophosphate binds to particles such as clay, so that its concentration in ground water is very low.  A favorite long term method to reduce Orthophosphate is to grow aquatic plants and later remove the plants, taking the excess nutrients with them (dry weight = 2.36% N, 1.75% P, 4.01% P2O5, 1.10% K, 1.33% K2O, 0.60% S, 0.19% Mg, 1.82% Ca, 0.27% Na). For a quick fix, the use of 100-160lbs. of aluminum sulfate or 40-120lbs. of ferric sulfate per acre will deposit the phosphates in the bottom sediment.
  • The upward movement of Orthophosphate from the lake sediment to the overlying water is usually due to lack ofoxygen at the lake bottom. Circulation of oxygen-rich water over the bottom will keep Orthophosphate locked in the sediments, unavailable for aquatic plants or algae.
  • Phosphoric anhydride (P2O5) is sometimes reported, which is the same as Orthophosphate, but in a dry state.


  • Salinity affects the ability of fish to absorb oxygen. In water bodies with existing high nitrite levels, sodium chloridewill often be added to prevent the fish from succumbing to nitrite toxicity. Salinity is usually reported as SodiumNa. Freshwater fish cannot tolerate fast changes in salinity.


  • Many biological processes are triggered by the water temperature, feeding, reproduction, immunity, and metabolism of most aquatic life. Not only is there a maximum temperature to aquatic life can live, but the solubility of oxygen in water, along with its availability to aquatic life, diminishes at higher temperatures. Furthermore, theoxygen demand by aquatic life increases as temperature rises.
  • Fish larvae and eggs usually have narrower temperature requirements than adult fish. Temperature preference among species varies widely. All species can tolerate some slow, seasonal changes, but not rapid change. Thermal stress and shock can occur when water temperature changes more than 34 degrees F in 24 hours; even less when transporting or moving fish.
  • Note: A large amount of heat is required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree F. This physical property of water moderates daily and seasonal climatic changes in water temperature.

Total Dissolved Solids:

  • TDS
  • Total Dissolved solids is defined as the material left behind after a water sample is filtered and evaporated. Each body of water contains a unique mixture of dissolved materials. A convenient alternative to measuring, drying, and weighing a sample is to test the conductivity of the water. The amount of material dissolved in a sample determines its ability to conduct electricity. Conductivity meters check the flow of electricity in the water. Conductivity (µmhos/cm) x 0.67 = total dissolved solids as ppm. Rainwater is almost pure with less than 10ppm. Drinking water is usually less than 500ppm, and lakes are between 100-2000ppm. Seawater is 35,000 ppm (3.5%).


  • Turbidity is caused by suspended solid matter, which scatters light passing through water. Turbidity, cloudiness in water, blocks out the light needed by submerged aquatic vegetation, eggs, and bottom dwelling creatures. There are two major forms of turbidity.
  • Living microscopic organism plankton contributes to high turbidity when populations are large. Plankton turbidity also result in large swings of high oxygen during the day and low oxygen at night. Moderately low levels of plankton turbidity indicate a healthy, well-functioning ecosystem in which plankton flourish at a reasonable level to support the foundation of the food chain.
  • Nonliving microscopic particles, sand, clay, etc., cause turbidity which damages fish gills, interferes with the ability of fish to food and smothers eggs. This type of turbidity consistently has low levels of dissolved oxygen (low photosynthesis action is due to low light penetration) and elevated concentrations of ammonia. Suspended particles near the water surface absorb additional heat from sunlight, raising the water temperature; and with reduced oxygen, both increases the toxicity of the ammonia. This condition will also smother the aerobic bacteria needed for bioremediation.
  • Heavy rains can also cause brown turbidity conditions. The cause is negatively charged particles. These particles repel each other and are slow to settle out of the water column. The addition of positivity charged particles causes coagulation and precipitation of nonliving microscopic articles, reducing turbidity.



Planktonic Life’s profound importance is not honored, but the truth be known they are basic to life! This is the start of the food chain; nutrients and sunlight (photosynthesis) are used by the phytoplankton to grow and multiply in water, same as other plants do on the land. Phytoplankton are eaten by small fish, which are eaten by larger fish, moving the trapped energy from plant protein to a higher energy level, to animal protein.

Planktonic Life includes microscopic plants and animals; others can be seen without magnification. Visible Planktonic Life is one millimeter, 1/25 inch in size or larger, and include protozoa, amoebas, and paramecium. Next are 1/200 mm which include algae and fungi, then 1/1000 mm, the most primitive of living forms; bacteria and blue-greens.

Planktonic plants are called phytoplankton; the best known are the algae. Planktonic animals are called zooplankton; one of the most abundant is the water flea. Plants and animals that drift on the current are called plankton. Animals that swim are called nekton. Animals that are attached to and crawling on the surface of the bottom of a water body are called benthos.

The protoplasm of Planktonic Life is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Small amounts of chlorinechloramines,iodineozonepotassium permanganate, and copper can inhibit planktonic life.




  • The algae are primitive plants closely related to the fungi. They have no true leaves, stems, or root system. They reproduce by means of spores, cell division, or fragmentation.
  • Carbohydrate and sugar energy can be stored by algae for later use, and is the basic food for all living things.Algae are sometimes called “the green miracle”; it transmutes sun energy, carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water into carbohydrate or sugar energy. It also replenishes the atmosphere with oxygen. This is only half truth, for in fresh water, when the algae population is growing, it takes in more oxygen at night than it gives off during the day, requiring additional oxygen transfer from the water interface to support aquatic life. In addition, the presence of large populations of algae reduces oxygen transfer from the atmosphere as it reduces the wind and wave action at the surface interface.
  • Algae spores can be carried by the wind, and naturally occurs wherever water and light exist. Don’t be alarmed; learn to recognize and use algae as an indicator of nutrient loading. When the nutrient level is so high that the aquatic vegetation cannot consume it fast enough, filamentous algae occur. If the nutrient loading is still too high; the next indicator is free floating phytoplankton (green water) algae.
  •  Attached – erectfilamentous, and phytoplankton are the three most common forms dealt with in water management. When aquatic vegetation is not available, attached – erect algae is the second choice for locking up excess nutrients. A slight green color of the water is an indicator of phytoplankton growth. Changing from green to brown indicates it is dying.


  • Zooplankton are primitive animals of the lower food chain; i.e., invertebrates, crustaceans, etc.
  • Water fleas are tiny crustaceans. An adult female Water Flea in good health may produce up to 20 broods of young in a two-three day period when the water is right. Water fleas’ blood is colorless or pale pink when oxygenis high, and bright red when low.


  • Bacteria forms are based on what are termed saprophytes. These are organisms that can only utilize non-living organic carbon matter. Nature’s way of nutrient recycling is largely dependent upon bacteria. One group ofbacteria starts a process, which is then continued by another team. Bacteria recycle the raw elements, lifting them to a higher level of energy.
  • This energy is used for vitamins and enzymes for itself and higher life forms. Bacteria have been on the earth for 4.6 billion years, but in some waters, their population are too small. The maximum growth temperature is 77-86 degrees (F). At 64 degrees (F) the growth rate is cut to 50%
  • Copper Levels must be below 0.05ppm!
  • With the correct environment, bacteria can grow more rapidly, and out-compete the algae for available nutrients. Under ideal conditions nitrifying bacteria will double in population every 15 hours. The by-products of this process are carbon dioxide, water, and bacterial biomass, which is rich in protein. Bacteria are the key to keep the cycles of life flowing.

Saprophytic Non-pathogenic Bacteria:

  • Azotobacter: A rapidly motile form of bacteria which fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere into nitrite.
  • Nitrosomonas: One of the nitrite-forming bacteria having to do with oxidizing ammonia to nitrite (pH 7.8-8.0)
  • NitrocaberNitrate-producing bacteria which oxidizes nitrites to nitrates, (pH 7.3-7.5). This bacteria is not tolerant to low temperature or low oxygen.


  • Blue-Greens are often described with terms “nuisance” or “noxious” because they discolor the water, form floating scums, are foul-smelling, and occasionally cause the death of fish and other animals. But only three deserve this reputation; they are known as:
  • AnnieFannie, and MikeBlue-Greens are not true algae, and probably were the first living cells on earth. In fact, they have a closer relationship with bacteriaCyanobacteria means blue-green. While they are called Blue-Greens, their pigmentation varies widely and includes yellow-green, green-gray-green, gray-black, and even red.Blue-Greens have a better growth rate over true algae by having positive buoyancy; they shade out the true algae. Low carbon dioxide may be a sign of Blue-Greens, as only life forms at the water surface can make use of the new carbon dioxide moving into the water from the atmosphere. Also low nitrogen may be a sign of Blue-Greens.  It nitrate (NO3) is depleted, true algae cease to grow, whereas Blue-Greens can mobilize nitrogen they have stored or convert nitrogen like other nitrogen fixing bacteria.
  • Blue Greens have the tendency to rise to the surface in early morning and sink in the mid-late afternoon.


  • Produced by living organisms and function as a biochemical catalysts for bacteria to carry on their life functions. (Enzymes do not grow and reproduce as do bacteria.) Bacteria are very versatile in producing the appropriateenzymes for the material present, and with existing conditions.
  • Commercial enzymes are extracted bacteria grown under specific conditions, which a specific food source. The match between commercially-supplied enzymes and the enzyme needs for your bacteria are seldom accomplished. The formulations of enzymes do not have the versatility of bacteria formulations. In some cases, commercial enzymes can cause the bacteria to convert organic matter that is in a form unavailable  as a nutrient to a form that is available, thereby aggravating the algae problem.

Hydralytic Enzymes:

  • Amylase: digestion of starch.
  • Beta-Glucanose: digestion of vegetable gums.
  • Cellulose: digestion of cellulosic particles (plants).
  • Nemicellulase: digestion of plant polysaccharides and gums.
  • Lipase: digestion of fats and oils.
  • Pectinase: digestion of fruit containing waste.
  • Proteinase: digestion of protein.
Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Aquatic Maintenance, Pond Maintenance, Water Feature.

Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just for Your Garage

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Sun glistening off a lake is a simple Summer pleasure we take for granted. Summer is the most beautiful season to enjoy a pond, lake, or water feature. This pleasure, however, requires maintenance – throughout the year – to preserve the appearance and function of lakes, by making sure they reach Equilibrium.

Equilibrium ensures balance in the water, keeping lakes maintained and functioning. Equilibrium is achieved when water is balanced; this occurs where natural decomposition is balanced with the amount of chemicals and organic materials entering the water. It is important to professionally maintain water features because the balance of any water feature can change over time and reduce the effectiveness of beneficial organisms - compromising the health of the water features.

Winter Contamination

The equilibrium and summertime beauty of a pond, lake, or any water feature can be seriously threatened by problems that develop months in advance, during the winter! Problems that occur during winter months are:

  • Biodegradation slows during the winter.
  • Rainfall can change the chemical balance of the water feature(s).
  • Increased debris from trees enter the water.
  • Runoff caused by rainfalls move fertilizers and debris in to the water.
  • Water lacks circulation and holds more suspended material.

Biodegradation occurs when organisms in the water break down the leaves, bird waste, and dead fish – biodegradation helps to keep the waters balanced, but this process slows in the winter. The combination of decreased biodegradation and increased debris entering the water and a lack circulation during the winter can lead to substantial problems in the summer.

Spring Renovation

Spring is the crucial time to ensure winter occurrences do not compromise the appeal of your lake in the summer. Neglecting lakes during the winter and spring can result in serious problems during the summer. Similar to the spring-cleaning we do in our homes, spring renovation for lakes is vital to bring the body of water to equilibrium.

A program of clarification, proper water circulation and sunlight can correct winter contamination. The goal is to reduce organic matter suspended in the water, adjust the balance of water to be favorable to chemical break down, and improve the oxygen content.

Every pond, lake, or water feature requires professional maintenance to sustain or restore its essential beauty. In addition to the simplicity of their elegance, lakes are for our recreational enjoyment, they add to our property values and provide simple summer pleasure. Ponds, lakes, and water features are worth the investment of maintenance by knowledgeable professionals, to reach and sustain equilibrium.

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

An Ounce of Prevention

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

The summertime beauty and function of a pond, lake or water feature can be seriously threatened by problems that actually develop during the winter, Algae, aquatic weeds, fish kills and odors are all caused by a buildup of debris and a lack of oxygen- conditions that develop during the fall and winter. The time to start preventing summer disasters is spring.

Setting the Stage

The water in our lakes is actually a solution of various chemicals and contains suspended organic materials. Various techniques enable water to achieve equilibrium; that is, the state in which natural decomposition is balanced by the amount of chemicals and organic materials entering the water. A program of clarification, proper water circulation and sunlight suppression can correct winter contamination. These measures are far more desirable than severe ones, such as dredging and mechanical weed control.

Many things happen during the fall and winter that disrupt the equilibrium of water bodies. Some of the most obvious are increased debris from trees and activity from migrating and native waterfowl. Some occurrences are not so noticeable. Precipitation increases during the winter. Rainfall, which contains a surprising amount of nitrogen picked up from the atmosphere, can change the chemical balance (pH) of water bodies. In addition, runoff from rainfall moves fertilizers and debris from the watershed into the lake.

More important, the process of biodegradation slows during the winter. The organisms in the water that break down leaves, bird waste and dead fish function very slowly, if at all. They simply can’t keep up. When temperatures rise in the spring and summer, the contaminant load in the water is very high. These organisms require oxygen and a certain pH range to do their job. Water holds only so much oxygen, depending on the temperature and circulation in the water. The more oxygen consumed by microorganisms, the less available for fish and other water life.

Fertilizers applied during the fall and winter also break down much more slowly. Landscape contractors apply nitrate forms of fertilizer (ammonium nitrate and calcium nitrate) to enable plants to obtain nitrogen and remain green during the cooler times of the year. Consequently, the potential for fertilizer runoff is greater during the winter. Nitrates that reach water bodies encourage the establishment of aquatic weeds and blooms of algae later in the season.

Add it all up, and you can see that the water in lakes, ponds and water features needs help in late winter and spring. Lake health depends on spring renovation.

Spring Lake Renovation

The goal of spring renovation is to bring the body of water back to equilibrium before high summer temperatures. and sunlight favor aquatic weeds and algae. To do this, you must reduce organic matter suspended in the water, adjust the pH of water to favor chemical breakdown and improve oxygen content. Other steps can be taken to improve lake health and discourage weeds, such as increasing lake depth and circulation; using dyes to reduce sunlight penetration; and preventing runoff and debris from reaching the water in the lake.

Reducing organic matter involves filtration or treating the water to cause organic particles to settle to the bottom. Filters are mechanical devices that require pumps, piping, a filter medium and power. The equipment must be operated and maintained properly, and the filter media must be flushed or replaced regularly to be effective. The time between filter maintenance events is determined by the load of suspended material in the water and the volume of water passing through the filter.

Treating a lake with chemicals requires sufficient circulation and an accurate calculation of the volume of water in the lake. The product needs to be both effective and safe for fish and irrigation if the lake is used as a reservoir. It must be applied correctly and evenly distributed throughout the body of water. For these reasons, selecting a professional applicator familiar with treating lakes is extremely important.

Clarification treatments should be followed with other steps to reduce light penetration and increase oxygen circulation. And, of course, now is the time to get serious about preventing debris from trees and lawns from entering the body of water.

The acidity or alkalinity of a lake influences how rapidly organisms function to digest contaminants. These organisms perform best at a certain range of a measurement called pH, which represents the amount of hydrogen present in the water. A balanced pH is 7.0. Tree leaves and rain can make the lake water acidic. However, a lake with a limestone shoreline can become too alkaline. The lake pH can change over time and reduce the effectiveness of beneficial organisms. The lake can be treated to restore proper pH.

Lake Depth, Weeds and Oxygen

Depending on the size and depth of the water feature, some provision should be made to maintain circulation throughout the year. Circulation distributes oxygen through the entire volume of the water, improves decomposition of organic matter and helps the lake maintain an even temperature at all levels.

A lake should be deep enough so that sun does not encourage establishment and growth of bottom-rooted weeds. Seed for these aquatic weeds can be deposited in the lake by wind or from bird droppings. Lake dyes can be used to prevent the sun from reaching the lake bottom and to impart a bluer cast to the water.

Deep lakes can develop stratification, or layers of water at different temperatures. The temperature of each layer determines how much oxygen it will hold, with cooler water holding more oxygen. Circulating water in the lake mixes the layers and makes the oxygen level consistent throughout the entire body of water.

Water that doesn’t circulate will also tend to hold more suspended material, which leads to discoloration and odors. Circulation causes suspended material to fall to the bottom of the lake where bacteria can break it down. Certain treatments can also cause suspended material to drop out.

When the amount of contamination entering a lake is impossible to control, a filtration system might be necessary. Filters are designed to catch a certain size of material. The right filter medium is needed to provide filtration at the most economical cost. Filters are also an additional maintenance concern.

Fountains and Injectors

Floating, motorized pumps can be installed in lakes either to pump air into the water (injector) or to pump the water into the air. Although pumps will provide additional oxygen, they also increase the water temperature so that it is more like the temperature of the air above it. The air pumped into a lake will not be distributed evenly throughout the lake without proper circulation. An injector that uses a pump on the lakeshore can also inject oxygen into the lake through tubes stretched across the lake bottom. All these devices take energy to run and require maintenance to operate properly.

Hidden activity beneath the surface of a water feature means that maintenance during the winter and spring is necessary to prevent serious problems in the summer. Because lakes contribute to our enjoyment and add to the property values, they are worth the investment in maintenance by knowledgeable professionals.

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

Hire A Pro!

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Proactive Lake Maintenance

You may think you want a lake maintenance company to fix problems when they arise, sounds about right; however, that is considered reactive maintenance and while it will solve apparent problems, this type of maintenance will not prevent time consuming and potentially expensive situations from erupting.

Lakes, streams, and ponds are complex water features. For the best results, they require proactive maintenance: a preventative approach to maintenance to works in conjunction with the exiting ecosystem in order to prevent overbearing and costly situations from developing.

Lake maintenance companies with a reactive approach hire personnel who can simply and only react. A company with a proactive approach trains their personnel not only to solve problems but also to be forward thinking to prevent them. Proactive maintenance personnel understand the root of problems and are able to eliminate costly situations before they occur.

Much like gardeners or landscapers monitor plants in our shopping plazas, community centers, recreational parks, etc., proactive lake maintenance professionals monitor the growth of aquatic plants in our water features. Proactive maintenance professionals monitor and control aquatic plant growth gradually as it develops; otherwise, like land plants they will grow at their own will and out of control creating a need for timely and expensive reactive restoration.

To avoid expensive reactive restoration, a proactive professional treats problems even when they are not visible. For example, the origin of an overgrowth problem could be unseen accumulation of sludge occurring at the base of a water feature, a proactive professional will treat the sludge to prevent the more expensive situation of overgrowth. Further, proactive maintenance professionals remain aware of seasonal changes that may affect the body of water. For example, a proactive lake maintenance professional monitors aquatic plants while they are dormant, during winter months, to prevent unsightly overgrowth situations in summer months.

In addition to preventative precautions taken to maintain the actual body of water, proactive maintenance companies train their employees to understand the workings of all equipment in the underground Pump Vault: electrical panels, pumps, bloomers, fans and lighting systems. To prevent costly equipment malfunctions, a proactive professional will take the preventative measures to ensure all wiring and equipment in the Pump Vault is functioning safely and efficiently. For example, if a motor in the pump vault is hot the cause can be determined and the customer informed of the corrective action before the problem becomes increasingly costly. In such a situation, a proactive company may replace a $400 component, and save the cost of replacing a $7,000 pump!

The more you know about your lake maintenance company the more you will know about your lake – a proactive company will keep you informed about potential issues and provide you with preventative, cost-saving solutions. Proactive lake maintenance professionals take preventative measures to ensure that expensive, time consuming and stress causing problems do not become overbearing. Ask questions to make sure the company hired is not simply reactive. Any maintenance company can fix problems; you need a company that can also prevent them.

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

Lake & Pond Maintenance is not for Amateurs

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, CEO of DWI

The individuality of ponds and lakes makes their maintenance far more complicated than simple principles of cause and effect. Out of ten lakes, two or three may need to special maintenance, three may be very tough to manage, and five may need simple preventative measures. It’s the tough ones that motivate property and waterscape managers to seek a specialist.

As someone devoted to water management problems, I have many tools, but their use needs to be directed wisely. Property Owners, Property Managers or Golf Course Superintendents can treat smaller ponds like swimming pools only if they have money to burn. They can exclude natural solutions in favor of chemicals or equipment-based ones (like filters), or they can hire a professional who understands how to balance natural and artificial treatment methods.

We have all kinds of tools, some work as promised, but none are a solution in itself. The best approach is to start with the idea of restoring a natural balance by providing adequate circulation, managing nutrient levels, ensuring adequate aeration, establishing a proper balance of fish species, and adjusting suspended solids and organic content with 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 many other aspects of facility management.

When your lake or pond gets hit with an algae or aquatic weed problem, the answer won’t be a single fix-all. It will be a package of solutions that work together to resolve the problem. Bottom line: making one change and moving on won’t correct the problem.

You need to establish how important each water feature is to you to get serious about a budget that will ensure the water feature’s aesthetic value. Everyone involved needs to determine whether a water feature is, or is not, worth maintaining properly. That’s as simple as it gets.

If you do respect the value of water features, you will then appreciate the concept of natural balance. However, you probably won’t want to go into specifics of population percentages between forage fish and weed eating species. You probably won’t know about the type of fish that controls the snail that acts as host to swimmer’s itch. You may not appreciate the value of fish species that eat insect larvae. You won’t know the difference weed control in flowing water and reservoirs.

Your aquatic management professional will know the answers. There are guidelines that describe the numbers of specific types of fish per 1,000 square feet of lake surface. There are certain chemicals that need to be applied at very close tolerances based upon acre feet of water in each lake. The aquatic maintenance measures will not work at incorrect rates.

As an aquatic management specialist, it’s my job to know the answers. If you want to keep your lake under control, I have the knowledge and experience to do that. At the same time, I can give you some hints as to the acceptable slope for watershed; the trouble caused by over watering highly fertilized areas around lakes; and the positioning of trees near bodies of water. (The debris from their leaves is a major source of nutrients in lakes.)

When you look for assistance with lake management, first determine whether the individual is licensed by your state and has all the related applicator’s licenses. (In some states, you must be certified to apply lake dyes.)

Second, ask for proof of Worker’s Compensation coverage and liability insurance coverage, including performance bonds for large, complex jobs.

Finally, check references. Probe for job performance feedback. The time you invest in now save you work in the end.

Keep in mind that much more of the earth is covered in water than land, yet we assume land is the only thing that counts. Let me respectfully suggest there is a whole world out there that matters a great deal to us. We just need to give it the respect it is due.

That’s what a few of us do every day. You can have it all if you delegate lake management to a knowledgeable person. We aren’t cleaning pools, we are managing a delicate balance between natural aquatic organisms and the aesthetic appearance of highly visible bodies of water within landscapes.

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