Are incorrect stormwater mowing practices putting you and your community at risk for compliance violations and safety hazards?
Whether you have a wet pond, stormwater wetland, or bioretention, all of the devices have specialized maintenance and mowing requirements. That’s why it’s important to work with a specialized stormwater vendor who are trained and experienced in proper management. In this article you’ll find stormwater expert responses to some of our most frequently asked questions.
“Should my pond vendor mow my SCM’s or can we just have our landscaper do it?”
A very common question. Our experience has shown that it works best to have a single vendor responsible for the inspected stormwater device. This includes not only the open water, but also the shoreline, slopes, and dam. Stormwater vendors are certified, trained, and experienced keeping SCM’s (Stormwater Control Measures) compliant and safe. Key Benefits Include:
Specialized slope mowers and brush cutting equipment mow and clear safely and efficiently
Technicians are trained in best mowing practices for all types of SCM’s
Knowledge of SCM’s and can identify possible compliance issues
Awareness of beneficial plant species that are part of the engineered pond design
It is common to see failed inspections when a stormwater vendor is not involved in the management and mowing of SCM’s. Often because the landscape vendor was unaware of how these systems work and simply didn’t know what to look for. The team at Clearwater Lake & Pond is trained and experienced in specialized mowing practices. Remember, your SCM’s are engineered devices that require specialized maintenance to function properly and stay in compliance. We can’t stress this enough.
“Why are you not mowing to the waters edge? The board thinks it looks unmaintained.”
Most SCM’s have installed aquatic plants as part of their design. The planting shelf, or littoral zone, plays an important role in the function of the SCM and the overall health of the ecosystem. This area should be maintained but keep a natural look. An occasional trim is fine but this zone should never be cut down completely or treated with herbicides. Hiring a specialized stormwater vendor like Clearwater Lake & Pond is the best way to avoid inspection violations, and the costly repairs that come with them.
“The HOA board thinks we only need to mow the ponds once per year.”
Unfortunately, this is incorrect. In most cases the SCM device will need to be mowed multiple times per growing season in order to stay in compliance and reduce safety hazards. In the Carolinas, this usually equates to about 4-5 mowings between March and October. Mowing frequency is often determined by the location and visibility of the pond. High visibility sites may need to be mowed monthly March – October, whereas low visibility sites may only need quarterly mowings. We have seen more and more municipalities increase enforcement of SCM mowing and maintenance to make sure all parts of the SCM can be accessed safely for routine maintenance tasks and inspections. Clearwater has the specialized equipment to do the job safely and efficiently. We work with you to determine the right mowing frequency that meet your goals and budget.
“We have a pond that is heavily overgrown with brush and saplings. Can you help?”
Absolutley! Clearwater Lake and Pond operates specialized machines designed to clear brush and trees in hard to reach places. Often times an initial brush clearing is needed, followed by seeding and regular mowing.
Clearwater meets all of your stormwater needs.
Don’t risk failed inspections and safety hazard with improper stormwater mowing techniques. The team at Clearwater Lake & Pond will work with you do develop a site specific maintenance plan designed with compliance and safety in mind. Working with us provides you a full-service stormwater management company, with complete stormwater maintenance and repair capabilities. We also provide you with a field report and photo documentation after each service visit to keep for your records.
Many homeowners live on or near a pond or lake in their communities. These waterbodies are often stormwater facilities designed with functionality in mind. Without management, you can find these waterbodies becoming overrun with aquatic weeds and algae. Which, at first sight, could lend you to believe these waterbodies are an unsightly waste of space. No matter the condition of your pond, you can be sure of one thing – it can be so much more!
Community lakes and ponds provide many opportunities for members and guests alike. Not only are they extremely beneficial for environmental health in the case of stormwater, but for recreation, sightseeing, and enjoyment of nature as a whole.
Naturally it can be sad for aquatic specialists when we see this untapped potential get ignored. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start the makeover and create a center piece for the entire community. Clearwater Lake & Pond can help you get back on the right track with informed decision making and innovative management methods.
Install a Floating Fountain
Floating fountains are often the first and one of the best additions we recommend for aesthetic and functional enhancements. A couple main categories of floating fountains: decorative fountains are designed to spray water into the air in stunning spray patterns, though they are generally not known for their water circulation. Many have beautiful colored (and customizable) lights that demand attention to the waterbody at night. An aerating fountain, on the other hand, is one that is designed to move more volume of water thus creating a circulation. However, that doesn’t mean these fountains aren’t aesthetically pleasing too. Some of the best-looking aerating fountains combine the best of both worlds with a decorative, multi-tier spray pattern that has the visual flash and moves a lot of water. Add some lights and you have a system that demands attention and benefits the ecosystem.
Well-circulated and oxygenated water has many compound benefits when fountain systems are efficiently sized and spaced in the pond. In certain cases, it may be beneficial to pair fountains with bottom diffused aerations systems. The movement increases dissolved oxygen levels, which in turn helps stabilize water quality parameters and prevents nutrient pollution that contributes to aquatic weed, algae, and toxic cyanobacteria growth.
Plant Beneficial Vegetation
Planting vegetation is another improvement that should be considered. But before planting anything, it’s vital to remove all the noxious and invasive vegetation first. This essentially gives the beneficial plants a clean slate to establish and reduces the risk of collateral damage to newly planted vegetation during management activities. You should consult with a professional to identify nuisance species and develop a removal plan which varies among ponds and weed species.
Decorative plants can be used in many ways to enhance your waterbody. In addition to creating a beautiful backdrop, deep-rooted, flowering species provide a buffer zone to filter trash and pollutants, protect the shoreline from erosion, and create wildlife sanctuaries. Aquatic plants should also be installed in the shallow areas of the waterbody. This can serve as a source of oxygenation, provide fish habitat, and filter nutrients out of the water so they can’t fuel undesirable weeds and algae.
Once these efforts have been implemented, routine maintenance becomes the key to health, beauty, and functionality. Our annual management programs ensure that an aquatic professional can keep an eye on the many factors that support the ecological balance of the ecosystem, as well as the aesthetic components that make your pond the focal point of your community.
The mid to late summer period (July-August) is the time we get asked, “What is going on with all this algae?” or “Why is my pond green?” or “My pond turned colors overnight.”
1. Algae or aquatic weed growth does not necessarily mean you have a problem – This is referring what you, the owner(s), want or the goals you have for the pond or lake. As aquatic management professionals, we have to know what you want from your pond in order to develop a management program for you. Example – If you are managing for trophy bass, then you may want to encourage plankton growth as this is the very beginning of the food chain for the fish. If the waterbody is always in the public eye or on a high end golf course, then even a little algae/plant growth can be bad for aesthetics. So, always consult with an aquatic professional to determine the best methods for management.
2. Nutrients are the cause of your plant/algae growth – Ponds and lakes revolve around nutrients and oxygen (dissolved). The key is keeping a balance of water quality parameters. Nutrients are good, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The addition of nutrients stimulates the growth of aquatic life. Weed and algae species require nutrients to flourish; mainly nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the largest quantities. Nutrients enter the system many different ways including stormwater runoff, lawn maintenance practices, geese droppings, and decaying organic matter. All organic material releases nutrients back into the ecosystem when it is decomposed. Adding all those nutrient pathways up over many years you can start to see why aquatic systems can become overloaded with nutrients (eutrophic). Start limiting the nutrients and you can start controlling nuisance weed growth.
Contact Clearwater Lake & Pond for more consultations and to learn how we can help you with your pond, lake, or stormwater control measure.
Whether you recognize them or not, SCMs are here to stay, and it’s a good thing. If they are done right, you won’t even notice them because they can and should be an attractive addition to the landscape. But make no mistake, they serve a very important purpose. SCMs are engineered structures that are designed to remove pollutants from runoff waters, improve water quality, and control quantity (flood control) before the water reaches our streams and drinking water supply reservoirs.
SCMs can include stormwater retention ponds, detention ponds, stormwater wetland, bioretention cells, bioswales, sand filters, and others. These practices are designed to operate effectively provided they receive the proper maintenance and management. This is a crucial aspect of ownership and one that is often overlooked until it’s too late. These structures MUST be maintained and inspected regularly to stay compliant with local and state laws. Notice of Violations are never something any community or business wants to receive and can result in hefty fines if not addressed immediately. Fortunately, Clearwater Lake & Pond can provide you with certified maintenance and inspections for any of the SCMs you may have.
Proper operations and maintenance means any action necessary to keep stormwater control measures and devices in proper working condition, so that such facilities will continue to comply with applicable ordinances to prevent safety hazards, public nuisances, and the failure of stormwater control measures and devices to function as intended. Maintenance includes activities identified on approved stormwater management plans, any applicable stormwater operations and maintenance manual, any applicable agreements or certifications.
That couldn’t be more true when it comes to pond management. Unfortunately, most pond owners neglect the prevention part of this equation until there is a size-able problem. Algae blooms, fish kills, sludge build up, bad smells, etc. are not something folks enjoy spending time around. But there is hope, and nature will always find a way. Every spring, Mother Nature gives us sore of a “re-do,” but it’s up to us to make the most of it.
The Spring Awakening
This time of year ponds in the Carolinas are starting to “wake up” from their winter dormancy. Longer days and warming waters kick everything into gear – from photosynthetic activity of plants, to increased activity of your fish. Warmer temps allow the microbes and beneficial bacteria in your pond to do what they do best: eat nutrients. So, what can you do to help the good processes in your pond prevent problems from occurring later in summer?
The Best Option
Without a doubt, the single best thing you can do for your ponds overall health is add oxygen and water movement. The more dissolved oxygen (DO) you can keep in the pond, the better almost every biological process in the pond works. Aeration allows for a more oxygen rich environment, promoting better fish health and activity. Aeration also keeps microbes and beneficial bacteria processing the excess nutrients in an oxygenated environment, which prevents bad smells, reduces muck, and thereby limiting the nutrients available for unwanted aquatic weeds and algae to grow. The physical movement of the water can prevent various forms of cyanobacteria, certain types of aquatic weeds, and has even been shown to limit mosquito activity around the shoreline. Who doesn’t want less pesky mosquitos?!
Other prevention steps to limit nutrient loading:
Use aquatic plants as a shoreline buffer to filter run off from the adjacent land. Also helps prevent shoreline erosion.
Blow grass clippings away from pond while mowing.
Get an early start on a routine bacteria treatment. This can prevent nutrient loading throughout the summer. Contact Clearwater Lake & Pond for more details.
Prevent geese from gathering. They add tons of nutrients to the water.
Monitoring and treat for unwanted plants.
Contact us today for consultations on how to keep your pond healthy and beautiful all year round.