Posts filed under Water Feature

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.

Protecting Your Body Image

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Community water features are intended to add elegance and ambiance; however, your body of water: a lake, or a pond, can quickly become your slimiest 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 problem. The fact is whether natural or man-made, 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 a water feature is crucial to proper function; but more often than not, a lake maintenance company is not 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 on site water features have many other responsibilities. When put in charge of maintaining a man-made body of water, a relationship with a professional lake maintenance company will relieve your burden, making your task less strenuous.

Example: if your water feature has strange, slimy globs of green matter covering the surface, huge mats of a 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 stopped running and the one remaining pump is making strange noises, what would you d0?

As the person responsible for the water feature, you may know much about the details of maintenance or the source of these problems; however, 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 many 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 your waterscape from ever reaching such an unhealthy state.

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, despite hiring a reputable lake maintenance company, the board will deny a repair or replacement recommendation because it was not preemptively accounted for in the annual budget.

With man-made water features, the initial problem could be brewing months before the effects ever surface. Too often lake maintenance companies are fallen in to “fix” a 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 it will take time for it to repair. In order to avoid those 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 with 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 they are also specialists in 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 and much more expensive problems from occurring.

This does not 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 steps to take in the treatment and restoration of the water and what to do in the event of equipment 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 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 the 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.

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.

Summer Heat and Aquatic Environments

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Heat and its Effects

Summer heat can play havoc with water systems in smaller private properties and larger scale HOA’s. Everything that has gone into the water feature during the winter months; leaves, rain water, runoff from neighboring yards (carrying fertilizers, soap from washing cars, and debris) will affect the water once the heat of summertime hits. Not to mention the bird waste and decomposition of fish that have died.

What Will Happen

When the heat hits the decomposition (of all the debris and runoff I just mentioned) that was slow during the cooler months kicks into high gear and starts the oxygen level and changing the chemical balance of the water. This environment is perfect for all sorts of nuisance weeds, algae, and bugs to grow and multiply at an alarming rate. Subsequently your beautiful water feature will end up with a rapid growth of all types of aquatic weeds, algae displaying itself as green unappealing water, and, on some occasions will be accompanied by a disgusting odor and midge flies (those pesky little things everyone thinks are mosquitoes).

What Action to Take

In the best case scenario you’ll want your properties to take a pro-active stance during the cooler months when the water’s surface may look good but underneath that surface all the ingredients are “gathering to make for a big show” when summer comes around.

  • Ensure your properties’ water features have good, properly operating and maintained aeration, circulation, pump, and filtration systems all year round. Everyone will be happier with the way the HOA water feature looks when the sun does being to beat down on it.
  • During the cooler months it’s also a good idea to treat the water with products made specifically for aquatic environments.
  • Making sure your waterscape vendor is getting a handle on things prior to the heat of summer will prevent a myriad of problems as neglecting a water feature during cooler seasons can result in serious and/ or unsightly problems in the summer.
  • When those hot summer months and/ or lack of proper care do strike you can count on your waterscape professional to take a very aggressive approach. The aquatic professional will have the tools at hand to treat the rapid growth of algae and aquatic weeds and those pesky midge flies. The end result being an aquatic environment that is aesthetically pleasing to all.

Bottom Line

Care for the water feature year round and it will provide you with years and years of enjoyment.

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

The Trouble That Lies Beneath

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Natural Waterways may appear to maintain their beauty and health without any special attention. So, it can be easy for us to presume that our own man-made ponds, lakes and streams will fare just as well with little intervention. But in reality, quite the opposite is true.

Because of environmental factors and human impact, natural waterways require constant monitoring and care. That is why our cities, counties and states spend significant financial and human resources in order to preserve these natural wonders and maintain water quality.

Things aren’t so different for our man-made aquatic features. The beautiful ponds, lakes and moving water that we design into our landscapes also require monitoring and maintenance in order to keep them beautiful and healthy.

We have all seen it- that problem pond that looks like an opaque bowl of split pea soup or the lake that has so much muck floating around you can hardly see the water (all of which are due to common algae). Or we’ve witnessed a sudden and inexplicable die-off of aquatic life, like fish or plants. Problems such as these are unsightly and putrid at best. At worst, they can pose a health threat as a source for mosquitoes that spread deadly diseases like the West Nile Virus.

We all recognize when problems occur but how many of us can effectively diagnose and treat them? And how can we prevent such conditions in the first place?

One important bit of advice would be to emphasize proper design when creating our aquatic features. But, as it is likely that many of you have already installed or “adopted” an existing aquatic feature, this bit of advice may not be helpful for everyone. And keep in mind, even the best designs aren’t immune to water quality issues.

Also, remember to set aside adequate financial resources to maintain and, if needed, replace the complex equipment that operates your aquatic features. Many water quality issues can be traced to inadequate, failing or faulty equipment such as pumps, filters, drainages and more. As if often the case, this is an aspect of maintenance that is overlooked or neglected due to a lack of understanding, a lack of budget or both.

Trying to manage all of this can seem intimidating and overwhelming- especially if your aquatic features are already experiencing water quality issues. This is where the services of an aquatic maintenance provider might be of real help.

A licensed, knowledgeable and experienced professional can provide the foresight and insight to help keep our aquatic features healthy and attractive by not only solving problems quickly and efficiently, but also offering an effective strategy of preventative maintenance. This can save you significant amounts of time, money and frustration in the long run. And that means being able to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of your aquatic features all the more.

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

Your Mental Health

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

It’s part of your organization. This lake, stream, pond, or this pain. Oftentimes property owners build a pond or lake thinking they fare well for the community.

Every water feature requires attention. They all experience problems; some seen; some unseen. All of these issues need to be attended to. Counties and States are addressing water conditions in their locales, are your troubles being dealt with?

Once in place, the initial design of a water feature is crucial to proper function. The features have been completed, filled and the project turned over an Association. Characteristics will have to be dealt with as is and not altered. The lake specialist may bring to your attention the design, or lack of. Just as man has toyed with nature, man has toyed with his idea of “natural” water.

Example:  Your water feature has slimy globs of green matter covering the surface. There are huge tangles of grass floating from the bottom. The water is pea green. Two pumps have stopped working. A large number of fish are either dead or dying. The waterfall is clogged and the one remaining pump is making noises. You have several problems. All of the “answers” are different and you realize that only one thing is true… this is going to be costly.

There are two possible causes. First, there is a lack of money in the budget to cover treatment or repair. Second, after a few years the water features are just faulty.

There are two possible causes. First, there is a lack of money in the budget to cover treatment or repair. Second, after a few years the water features are juts faulty.

There are two possible solutions. First, prepare a budget that will authorize a lake maintenance crew to treat the grassy sludge. They will clear and dissolve the algae. You should approve the removal; repair or replacement of pumps and authorize the additional expense for new aeration, fish or plants. This should be a 1-2 month process. Second, find the three reputable maintenance companies, request bids, conduct interviews, hire a company and give notice to the current company. The longer you wait, the worse the condition will be. Your homeowner will become irritated and complain.

A budget; reserve planning and a regular maintenance program should be in place. The maintenance provider must be a professional. The company ought to provide proof of licenses, permits, general liability, workman’s comp, vehicle insurance; a proven track record along with long term references. Working with responsible management; a board of directors and professional maintenance crew will insure a quality of water environment.

Make a reserve study of repair costs, what is in need of replacement, or what has been repaired. Costs to replace pumps fish and plants should also be factored into a working budget. Also factor in the type of body of water you are dealing with.

A proactive solution to any problem is regular maintenance. The lake professional should have adequate options for repair or replacement issues; be educated on how to repair/ replace a float valve, pump, filter, coupling, or fill valve malfunction. Customer service and satisfaction is key. The company should also be able to distinguish between an urgent situation or non emergency.

The bottom line is to plan for your water feature’s maintenance and repairs by having a budget firmly in place. Hire a lake maintenance company that has a good reputation. Keep lines of communication open between the board, the management company and conservation company.

Remember, if you want to keep a lake healthy and balanced, use a professional of good reputation, regular safeguarding of the aeration, the filtration, the pumps, the aquatic plants, the water, and pest control is vital.

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

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.

Water Features At A Glance

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

Every lake, stream and pond has a unique environment. Each body of water has its own unpredictable behavior patterns. This face makes maintenance of these water features far more complicated than just simply treating your lakes, streams or ponds with some magic potion and walking away. With ten different water features, two might look “perfect” all the time and need very little maintenance. Three of them might be exceptionally difficult to maintain, and five might need simple preventive maintenance. It is the problematic ones that cause homeowners to throw up their hands and seek a specialist who possesses the ability to address problematic aquatic environment.

Homeowners with deep pockets can treat smaller aquatic features like swimming pools, so long as you expect nothing to live in them. If the feature does not have any aquatic plant life, fish, fowl or other wildlife on a regular basis, chlorine can be used and the system flushed with clean, sterile water. This would preclude more natural solutions in favor of using harsh chemicals resulting in a dramatic increase in your water bills and an unbalanced aquatic environment. Who wants that?

The other, and more favorable, solution would be to seek and hire a licensed aquatic professional to assess your individual issue(s). You want someone who understand how to balance both the natural and artificial aspects of your lake, pond or stream in addition to just “making it look pretty”. Taking the most cost-effective, lasting measures to restore your lake, stream or pond the aquatic professional will want to introduce certain steps to solve your problem. In addition to being necessary, just doing the basics – aeration, filtration, physical maintenance and pest management will go a long way in solving and eliminating problems in your water feature. Also, included in thesebasics would be the introduction of beneficial bacteria and enzymes, aquatic plants, fish and even some algae. The well-rounded professional will also want to apply products that reduce foam, clarify water, eliminate algae and bring color to an otherwise drab lake, stream or pond. These are but a few of the actions your professional may take to restore the beauty to your water feature.

When looking for an aquatic professional, make sure that they are licensed and reputable. Be sure to ask questions about their background and expertise. You want someone who is both knowledgeable and action oriented, but also someone who has been in the industry long enough to have seen various aquatic issues and can better determine a solution tailored to your specific water feature dilemma. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your aquatic specialist that are directly related to your particular lake, pond or stream issue.

Man-made lakes, streams and ponds are just as problematic as natural lakes, streams and ponds. In urban environments, both types of water are prone to runoff land with soaps, oils, greases, phosphates, nitrogen, organic materials and minute plant life.

Listed below are two actions, to avoid, that can result in lakes, streams and/or ponds becoming unsightly, odiferous and difficult to keep under control.

  • Runoff from highly fertilized landscapes, vehicles being washed and debris draining into the waterscapes after a hard rain brings nutrients into the water features resulting in excessive algae growth, unbalanced water and an odor, leaving the water very unappealing to the eyes and nose.
  • The positioning of trees near the water, trimmings being dumped into the water features, branches and leaves falling into the aquatic environment. Debris from tress is a major source of nutrients staying in the water; these nutrients increase the growth of algae and are also a source of that black sludge you see on the bottom. The depth of the sludge will increase as the years pass and you’ll find your lakes, streams or ponds having more sludge than water, resulting in an unsightly and odorous mess. For some odd reason, landscapers and homeowners alike seem to feel dumping trimmings, leaves, baby diapers, chairs, trash and other odd assortments of items into the water features is not going to have an adverse affect.

All of these actions have an affect on your water feature and none of these contaminants are beneficial to a water feature. They make bad things grow and they also make good things grow to the point where they are considered a nuisance.

Whether this aquatic environment is man-made or natural, “nature” will still be at work. From time to time, nature or humanity, may wreak havoc, similar to what’s mentioned above but, the resulting displeasing look can be eradicated and the water restored to an aesthetically pleasing appearance and nose pleasing smell.

There are a variety of tools that can be used to deal with tricky water features, some work as promised, but no single step is a complete solution. The best approach is to restore the natural balance by doing those previously mentioned “basics”, managing the nutrient levels, establishing a proper balance of fish species, and removing the amount of debris by using manual labor, water treatment products and/or necessary equipment. The trick is to not create a new problem by using only one solution.

Just follow the basics. Remember, when those basics are used together, they are the solutions to your troubled water. Lastly, remember, an aquatic problem cant’ be “fixed” by making one change, or using one “magic” solution and moving on. The problems, most likely, will be ongoing and have to be solved as long as your water feature exists. So take care of that waterscape just as you do your landscape and when those problems arise take comfort in the knowledge that where there is a problem, there also is a solution and the result is a breathtaking water feature!

Posted on April 13, 2014 and filed under Water Feature, Pond Maintenance.