Do you manage a retention pond or farm dugout pond?

Did you know that stagnating water is in the process of losing dissolved oxygen and its ability to be a life source for all surrounding it? In a nutshell, if your retention pond stagnates, it is in a deep decline. Soon you will see vegetation growth throughout the pond, muck accumulating at the shores and a simultaneous loss of water clarity. As summer temperatures soar, you will see algae form on the pond’s surface, and the acceleration of rotting organic matter in the pond will release a less-than-appealing odour. This is why it’s important to understand dissolved oxygen and how it affects your water.

No doubt, owning property next to or near a small pond or dugout is one of the pleasures of suburban and rural living. A beautiful body of clean, fresh water that you can see right to the bottom is something that greatly enhances the value of your property. But just like other aspects of home and land ownership, maintenance is required.

A body of water that is not flowing requires your immediate attention. Most people don’t realize active management and routine maintenance of a stagnating water body can reverse your pond’s deterioration, preventing unhealthy algae and pond muck from building up. We’ve put together a checklist that you can use to diagnose a pond or lake near you.

Aeration and treatments with beneficial bacteria are widely documented as solutions for reversing the adverse effects of stagnating water. Moreover, specialists such as Environmental Water Remediation Experts are specially trained to thoroughly assess stagnating ponds or lakes and can recommend a multi-pronged approach that often includes vegetation management solutions. After all, much of the source of the decay of ponds naturally comes from organic and inorganic run-off from land at or near your pond’s shoreline.

Why should you take action?
Simply put, stagnating water next to your home or cottage can pose a serious health risk to your children, your neighbours, your pets and to wildlife in your area. Check out the following table documenting the hazards associated with stagnant water.

Hazards Associated with Stagnant Water

Insects: Mosquitos and other unwanted bugs can breed and multiply in stagnant water and can potentially spread diseases like West Nile virus and encephalitis to your family and neighbours. A stagnant pond can also result in the spread of diseases like West Nile virus, encephalitis, swamp fever, and heartworms to your dogs and horses. Preventing the environmental conditions that allow for the spread of these serious diseases is far easier than dealing with the consequences of sick children, pets, or livestock. Additionally, treating animals for these illnesses can be very expensive.

Rodents: Animals such as rats, mice, muskrats, beavers, and raccoons are attracted to stagnant ponds as water sources and can be vectors for spreading other diseases like giardiasis, which is caused by a protozoan parasite. These animals may also cause property damage while making nests and searching for food.

Poisoning: Ponds and small bodies of standing water seem like the ideal place to cool off and swim to children in hot weather, but unhealthy water laced with cyanobacteria can lead to poisoning and sickness.

Diseases: Diseases such as cryptosporidium parvum, giardia lamblia, and E. coli can live in stagnant water and can be spread to anyone handling the water. The stagnant water that may be a reservoir of these diseases can contaminate drinking water accidentally during flooding. Professional help with the assessment of the stagnant body of water and proper advice and assistance in remediation can save a lot of time and money, and more importantly, can protect you and your family’s health.

Aquatic death: Die-off of fish, amphibians, beneficial insects, water creatures, and aquatic plants can create layers of organic matter at the bottom of the stagnant water. Besides creating a stinky, messy eyesore, this slimy bottom on the pond or dugout can be a deadly hazard for children who may get bogged down in the mud beneath the water and drown. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons people swimming in dugouts drown is because the sides of the dugout are steeply sloped and slippery with rotted organic material. Once in the water, getting out again becomes nearly impossible for a tired swimmer when the sides of the dugout are slippery and muddy.

Animal death: Stagnant ponds can accidentally kill pets and livestock. This usually occurs when other clean water sources are not readily available, and the animals drink the contaminated water due to thirst. Cyanobacteria, which are often found in stagnant water, can produce toxins that have proven deadly to pets and livestock.

Infection: Swimming in stagnant water can be very hazardous for your pets, causing everything from minor ear infections and skin irritations to sudden death from deadly bacteria and toxins.

Contaminant: Even when fenced to control access to children and pets, municipal ponds that are not being properly managed can still be hazardous, as fences don’t contain mosquitoes, rodents, or the smell of rotting organic matter permeating the air.

What You Can Do About Stagnant Water

  1. Find professional help — you need someone knowledgeable to assess your individual situation and honestly provides you with the lowest cost solutions to handle the hazards that are inherent to your particular pond, dugout, or small lake. Specialized knowledge of stagnant water and its management is a must in this situation.
  1. Implementing the suggested solutions can work very quickly to put your property back into a healthy state and will be money well spent on the health and welfare of your family, neighbours, pets, and livestock.
  1. Maintenance of your system is also a must — maintaining your water feature will be an ongoing effort that must continue annually. However, once the system is in place and functional, it can be very cost-efficient and greatly enhance your properties’ beauty and value.
  1. On a municipal level, your voice counts as an informed and concerned citizen. Your voice has importance, especially when you are armed with the knowledge and facts to support your assertions about the hazards of standing stagnant water in your municipality. The neglected pond, ditch, or swampy area is jeopardizing the health of everyone living nearby.

Small ponds that are properly aerated and cleaned of harmful bacteria and insects can be ideal for ornamental fish, provide recreational activities for your family and neighbours, and be a draw for attractive waterfowl. A clean drinking source can also be very beneficial to local wildlife populations.

An upgrade to a small pond or water feature on your property can pay big dividends in terms of enjoying the recreational opportunities it provides. Like many other home improvements, the increased real estate value from an attractive, clean water feature on your yard site can substantial. A small pond that can be enjoyed for swimming, snorkelling, or wading can be very desirable on a hot summer day. Many dogs love to swim and play in water as well, and it can be a very good source of exercise and cooling down for your furry friend during the summer.

There is a myriad of things that can be done to enhance your pond, dugout or water feature, and it’s something that can be tailored to both your budget and your individual situation. A professional assessment can save you money, time, labour and heartache if you encounter any of the numerous downsides to stagnant water.

Experts in water management need to be sought out by your municipality as well. Enhancing the local landscape, creating more recreational opportunities, and protecting the public’s health are important aspects of every community.

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