Hector Argüello Canals
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Hector Argüello Canals

A Green Way to Clean Ponds

Learn how you can use an environmentally-friendly method to clean your lakes and ponds.

They’re serene, calming and inviting. Lakes and ponds provide life, joy and serenity. You’ll find them on golf courses, tucked away in neighborhoods, or sprawled out in public parks. These bodies of water require attention and care as much as the golf courses they sit on.

Often times, lakes and ponds are covered with a layer of soft, green vegetation. But are these floating aquatic weeds harmful to the health of the pond? Absolutely! Over time, they can prevent sunlight from reaching deeper plants, thus prohibiting photosynthesis and the production of oxygen, which fish and other aquatic dwellers need to thrive. Duckweed and watermeal are amongst some of the weeds that thrive in nutrient-rich bodies of water such as farm ponds, but they can slowly choke the life out of those ponds. So, the question is, how can they be controlled?

A myriad of pond owners rely on chemical treatments to clean their ponds. What many don’t know is that these chemicals can affect more than just the ponds themselves. Over time, these chemicals can leach from the pond itself into the local groundwater, contaminating wells and other still bodies of water. This process is relatively slow, with some chemicals taking decades to reach the supply of drinking water, so detrimental effects may not appear right away.

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Lake on a golf course.

Duckweed and watermeal are just two types of weeds that most pond owners seek to control with chemicals such as diquat. Duckweed — so called because ducks eat it — is a flowering aquatic plant that floats on or just below the surface of still bodies of water, while watermeal is the world’s smallest flowering plant. Scoop up a handful of these and you’ll have thousands. These fast-growing plants can form green mats an inch thick. After the use of the chemical diquat, the duckweed turns brown and sinks to the bottom, which can nourish unkilled weeds, effectively making matters worse. Furthermore, diquat doesn’t work on watermeal. For that you need a separate chemical, fluridone, which, according to studies from Purdue University, makes water unsafe for irrigation for 7 to 30 days and cannot be used within a quarter mile of drinking-water pipes. Using chemicals to treat a lake or a pond can prove to be environmentally unsound, and can actually make matters worse, creating a cycle of weed growth.

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A pond in Westport, CT before the use of ProSkim.

Luckily there are safe solutions out there for pond owners that can prove both cost effective and good for the local ecosystem. ProSkim is among those solutions, acting much like a pond vacuum to remove floating weeds, pollen, and twigs, and at the same time aerates a pond’s water. This system removes weeds and thereby the nutrients that have built up in ponds or lakes from non-point runoff of fertilizer and storm water. The floating unit filters out weeds and debris, which are then pumped through a hose to an onshore filtration unit. Clear, filtered, aerated water then travels through a return hose to the pond. Meanwhile, the collected weeds can be discarded away from the pond, or recycled in a number of innovative ways. Among other institutions, the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences has been investigating practical applications for these prevalent weeds. Duckweed can be used for wastewater treatment, in biofuels, and as a protein-and-mineral-rich feedstock. Homeowners can even find immediate use for it as compost.

The use of chemical treatments can also prove to be an annual expense. A ProSkimmer System is cost-effective in the long run, because it’s a one-time expense and can easily be moved from one pond to another. The cost of treating a one-acre pond legally with chemicals is about $2,000 or more per year. Within four seasons or less, a ProSkimmer System can save money and all without the introduction of harmful manmade chemicals into local ecosystems. Also, pond owners often see dramatic results in a few days, instead of the weeks it can take with chemical treatments. A green pond can quickly turn into a clear, clean, healthy body of water that can be enjoyed for years to come.

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A pond in Weston, CT after two weeks of using ProSkim.

Aquatic plant management societies, generally funded by the herbicide industry, will often steer pond owners toward chemical solutions. Sometimes this means adding chemicals to chemicals, because much of a pond’s excess nutrients come from fertilizer runoff. Pesticides, fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals are a significant source of water pollution. The ProSkimmer System gives pond owners a clean and simple alternative to annual chemical treatments.

For more information on ProSkim, please visit www.proskim.com.

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