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Proactive Annual Lake and Pond Management is Better for the Environment and Your Wallet

By Marc Bellaud, Aquatic Biologist SOLitude Lake Management

This article first appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of The Communicator here.

We have all heard the adages about being proactive: "The early bird gets the worm" and "Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today." These principles apply to nearly every facet of life, whether it’s our job performance, health care, financial planning, or in this case, lake and pond management. It’s no secret that taking care of our environment is important, but it goes beyond that. Science suggests that the preservation of our water resources is a key factor in our health and happiness; memorable experiences and time spent around the water lead to a greater sense of peace and connection to the world around us.

Much like the human body, when a lake or pond is ‘young,’ it typically requires less effort and funds to keep it healthy and functional. But a lifetime of neglect can lead to premature aging and serious imbalances. Without ongoing management, waterbodies become inundated with organic matter, sediment, debris, and other pollutants that cause aesthetic, ecological, and functional problems. These can arise in a multitude of ways, including recurring water quality issues, nuisance weeds and algae, and foul odors – and even scarier issues may lurk unnoticed beneath the water for many years before they manifest. When they do finally appear, it is generally a sign that the waterbody requires significant intervention.

  • Disregarded plant matter and debris can clog and damage stormwater equipment and increase the risk of dangerous flooding.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms can create toxins that may harm aquatic animals, pets, and humans.
  • Invasive plants like Phragmites can take years of dedicated treatments to successfully eradicate.
  • Invasive animal species like armored catfish, bufo toads, and quagga mussels can out-compete beneficial native species and pose significant challenges and costs to remove.
  • Shoreline instability can cause expedited lake and pond "aging" and endanger others.
  • The accumulation of muck and sediment over time can reduce depth and volume, with costly and invasive dredging oftentimes being the only solution.

The number of tools necessary to restore an imbalanced lake or pond depends on many factors, and the benefits can be fleeting if not done consistently. That’s why year-round maintenance is key. To begin developing an annual management program, aquatic specialists conduct preliminary assessments that examine the biological, physical, and chemical properties of the water. Detailed visual inspections and baseline water quality tests provide valuable insights into the overall health of the waterbody and establish an important foundation of data to inform future management decisions.

Once preliminary assessments are completed, a customized management program can be designed. The most effective programs lean on cutting-edge technologies, comprehensive data collection, routine laboratory analysis, and premium services like nutrient remediation, algae ID, biological augmentation, oxygenation, and erosion control solutions that help stakeholders achieve the trifecta of health, functionality, and beauty. And these solutions are underscored by the guidance and expertise of scientists who specialize in freshwater management.

Lakes and ponds exhibiting more mild issues or those with budgetary limitations can still be supported by the basics like periodic visual monitoring, nuisance vegetation control, buffer management, and decorative pond dye. These ongoing efforts help lay the groundwork until more advanced solutions come into the picture. Consulting with your lake and pond management professional can help you make the most appropriate decision for your property and your wallet.

Lakes and ponds are an investment, but the upfront costs to kickstart your management program will help to reduce expenses that are often much larger and more concerning down the road. While every aquatic ecosystem has different needs, they all benefit most from comprehensive maintenance strategies supported by the most effective and sustainable technologies available to us. Like most other facets of life, when it comes to lake and pond management "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."


Throughout his 30-year career, Marc Bellaud, aquatic biologist at SOLitude Lake Management, has been involved in cultivating the science of aquatics as a good steward and widely respected thought leader. His passion for protecting water inspires his guidance of communities toward more sustainable and cost-effective lake and pond solutions.


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