Golf Course Water Features Need Management

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Golf Course Water Features Need Management

A well designed water features that receives basic management will attract more than errant golf shots.

Written by: Jim Skorulski
This article provides an overview on pond management including pond ecology, factors that cause problem ponds, algae and aquatic plant management, and cost estimates. The author also delivers tangible techniques to evaluate pond problems and best practices to manage them. The pond design and purpose (stormwater, irrigation, water hazard, habitat) also influences management techniques. Using nutrient reduction and inactivation practices (vegetative buffers and subsurface aeration). Are recommended and key to improving water quality.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR POND AERATION

  • Algae varieties have different requirements for growth, but they all require nitrogen, phosphorus and sunlight to multiply and bloom. Reducing nutrients is a key management objective to reduce algae blooms.
  • Vegetative buffers prevent nutrients from entering the pond.
  • Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can produce toxins that are deadly to animals.
  • Annual pond maintenance contracts range $200 – $2000 per acre (circa 2014).
  • Dredging is required to remove nutrient rich sediment and weeds and increase the depth. Dredging is very costly, and dealing with removed sediment can be difficult.
  • Grass carp can negatively affect the balance of the pond ecology and do not eat filamentous algae, cattail, fragrant water lily, or other large plants. They are not legal in many states.
  • Barley straw has inconsistent results as a control agent.

GENERAL TAKEAWAYS

  • Load reduction: While this is cost-effective and long-lasting, it is the most difficult. As long as phosphorus is entering the pond, it is going to accumulate and dissolve in the water. Organic matter from leaves entering the pond can be another source of nutrients.
  • Pre-treatment: Stop nutrients from entering the pond. Consider landscape management strategies that prevent trees from growing on the edge of the pond.
  • Dredging may expose underlying soils that are full of phosphorus and organic matter and may not solve the nutrient issue.
  • Treat internal phosphate loading directly with aluminum. Used in large lakes to bind phosphorus to aluminum which is no longer sensitive to oxygen as with iron. This treatment requires skilled staff and equipment, making it cost-prohibitive in small ponds. Too much aluminum in the water can be toxic for wildlife and plants.

Published: 2014 United States Golf Association, Green Section Record Vol. 52 (16) August 8, 2014

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