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BENEFITS OF OWNING A POND
1. Lawns require watering whereas ponds can be re-filled with rainwater. Maintaining a lush lawn requires regular watering; otherwise, it can quickly lose its luster and become burnt out. Therefore, homeowners spend countless hours and thousands of gallons of water each year watering their lawns. Regular lawn watering uses 750-1,500 gallons of water each month. Source: Water Conservation Tips- www.monolake.org. Conversely, once a pond is initially filled, pond owners will only need to ‘top off’ the pond occasionally, especially if living in a climate that receives regular rainfalls.
2. Ponds are a self-sustaining cycle of hydration that keeps plants alive without having to water them. For those interested in conserving water, ponds and water gardens are the best landscaping option. Because shrubs, flowers and plants based in soil require constant watering, a household’s water consumption can easily increase dramatically. Alternatively, through rainfall, ponds and water gardens literally water themselves, helping to save water. Additionally, pond water can be used to water other plants in the garden, therefore conserving water by eliminating the use of the garden hose. Simply dip a watering can into the pond to care for other plants and trees throughout the yard.
3. Less mowing means less use of gas and carbon monoxide emissions. Here are a few more reasons for dad to take some time off from mowing, and instead, build a water garden or pond. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas. A traditional gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars, each being driven 12,000 miles. Lastly, over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment – more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska. This adds to groundwater contamination and smog. Source: Environmental Protection Agency
4. Pesticides and fertilizers for the lawn can be harmful, creating run-off that ends up in our water supply. The EPA estimates that only 35 percent of lawn fertilizers applied ever reach the grass plant; the remainder ends up in our air or seeps into groundwater. During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. Commonly used lawn pesticides can cause illness by entering our drinking water through run-off. Source: The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns.
5. Sludge collected by your pond filter can be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Pond sludge can contain nutrients from fish droppings, excess fish food, and decaying leaves. Sludge, a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer, can be placed around the bottom of a tree, plant or shrub to aid in growth.
6. Ponds attract and create a haven for beautiful fish, dragonflies, frogs and birds, adding to wildlife propagation. For years, pond owners have been adding beautiful fish (such as Koi and Goldfish) to their pond for the enjoyment and relaxation of observing. In addition to fish, ponds and water gardens attract other creatures, providing a sanctuary for breeding. Frogs especially gather at the pond as it provides a shelter as they reproduce in the spring and summer. Baby frogs and toads (known as tadpoles) are generally a desirable pond inhabitant for their algae-eating habits. Adult toads are also beneficial to the garden for their aid in controlling insects.
7. Water gardens influence young people to help create a better future for the planet. Including children in the building of a water garden or pond helps them gain an interest in science and environmental issues. Water gardens are complete eco-systems which educate children on how natural systems work and can influence them to help create a better planet. Getting kids involved and thinking about nature early in life encourages them to continue their interest in the environment throughout adulthood. Planning, building and maintaining a pond or water garden also helps children understand the responsibility we all have for caring for our environment.
Pond Aeration is Critical for a Pond’s Success The most important factor in ensuring the success of a large pond or lake is proper aeration. Dissolved oxygen is a critical component in the ecology of a pond. It is what makes the pond go and what keeps the inhabitants healthy and keeps the water clean. This article will discuss the consequences of poor aeration and low dissolved oxygen levels and the numerous benefits of proper pond aeration and healthy dissolved oxygen levels. To be technical, dissolved oxygen is gaseous oxygen dissolved in an aqueous solution. So basically it is the amount of oxygen available in the pond water. Generally speaking 5 ppm is the baseline for what is good for a pond or lake. Anything below that can lead to problems. So what are these problems associated with low dissolved oxygen and what causes them? The most critical problem associated with low oxygen levels is a fish kill. Fish require a certain ppm of dissolved oxygen to live and without it…well, they die. Poor oxygen levels can also lead to noxious odors coming from the pond as the breakdown of organic waste will shift from an aerobic process to a slower anaerobic process that result in the production of hydrogen sulfide. Also, in the case of deeper ponds, the lack of oxygen will lead to stratification meaning there becomes a layer at the bottom of the pond that becomes un-usable as it is extremely oxygen deficient. This in turn reduces the available living space of the fish, placing more strain on the still oxygenated water.
The issues that cause oxygen levels to become low are numerous. Probably the most common is an over abundance of aquatic plants, particularly algae. Aquatic plants are good in moderation as they do release oxygen into the water. In the case of algae, planktonic algae make up the base of the food chain in a pond and are therefore critical. However, many of these plants that release oxygen during the day, also consume oxygen at night. So when you have a pond with a heavy algal bloom or thick aquatic vegetation, oxygen can be rapidly consumed overnight and even on cloudy days, causing a fish kill. Other factors that contribute to poor dissolved oxygen levels and the need for pond aeration is a high organic waste load. Organic waste in a pond can come from a variety of sources including dead vegetation, fertilizer run-off, fish food and fish waste. All of those examples are naturally broken down in a pond, but to do so efficiently and without further detriment to the water quality, oxygen is needed. So when you have a high waste load to be degraded, you will require a large amount of oxygen to do so.
So, by now you may be concerned that these issues could affect your pond and you want to prevent them from happening, but are not sure how to select pond aeration system.
True, there are varying types of pond aerators to choose from, but to keep things simple; you basically have two types of aeration systems: surface aeration and bottom based aeration. A good rule of thumb for figuring out which one would be best is to use the average depth of your pond as a barometer. If your pond is less than 6 feet deep, than a surface aeration system will probably work well, while deeper ponds will benefit more from a bottom based aeration system.
What is the difference between the two you may be wondering? Surface aerators are generally floating aeration units that pull in water from the top foot or so of the pond and splash it into the air. As the water crashes back down onto the pond, oxygen transfer takes place as well as the venting of gases. Because the oxygen transfer is taking place just at the surface, these aeration systems or best suited for shallower ponds. Surface aeration units can also be equipped with different spray patterns for more aesthetic appeal, however the more extravagant the spray, usually the less efficient it is at aerating.
Bottom based aeration systems or diffused aeration involves pushing air down to the bottom of a pond or lake and allowing the bubbles to naturally rise to the surface. These aeration units are the most efficient for aerating deeper pond and lakes as the bubbles are providing the bulk of the work. However, diffuser systems can be used in shallower ponds, but in those cases more units will be needed and installed evenly throughout the pond, thus adding more cost into the system. As the bubbles rise, they destratify the water eliminating the oxygen poor zone at the bottom and mixing it with the oxygen rich water above creating a healthier water column. These systems also create very little surface agitation other than a gentle rolling action therefore providing no aesthetic appeal.
It is important to note that unless you have a very round even depth pond, you should look for assistance in sizing a proper aeration unit to meet the needs of your pond. Having an undersized aeration system can actually lead to problems instead of helping them.
Now you have a properly sized pond aeration system. What can you expect now? The benefits to expect from a good aeration systems are numerous.
Fish kills (due to low oxygen) can be prevented
A biological bacterium is stimulated to efficiently break down waste and reduce the bottom muck layer. Aerobic bacteria will out proliferate problematic anaerobic bacteria to control odors.
Key nutrients such as phosphates are rendered unavailable and metals like iron are precipitated out
Algae blooms will be less severe and less problematic due to the lack of available nutrients
Pond water is destratified leading to the prevention of turnovers and improved overall water quality
Gasses such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide can be vented
The need for maintenance products are reduced to the ponds naturally ability to regulate itself.
In the case of northern states, aeration systems will also help prevent winter fish kills is preventing the pond’s surface from freezing over and allowing the venting of gasses.
Pond aeration systems can be a significant financial investment, depending upon the size of the pond being aerated. However the costs associated with monthly water treatments, regular maintenance and the constant worrying about the quality of water are far greater than the long term benefits and peace of mind associated with a good aeration system.
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