Detailed answers to the most common questions on caring for your lake. Don’t see your question on our list? Click to “Ask EverBlue”. We will get you an answer in 48 hours or less.Ask EverBlue
What is wrong with treating weeds and algae with chemicals? “All I want is a clear lake.”
Chemical herbicides and algaecides, like any tool in a toolbox, have a usefulness and a place in lake management. The problem, in our view, is that these tools are vastly over-used and over-sold to lake communities. Chemical Treatment Companies rarely talk about the negative, unintended consequences of prolonged chemical treatment.
The scientific fact is that when you kill weeds and algae with chemicals the dead material goes to the lake-bottom where it builds up as compost. This compost at the lake bottom (just like in your garden) is perfect for growing more weeds and algae in your lake.
The bottom-line. When you treat your lake with chemical herbicides and algaecides you are spending money to virtually guarantee the problem will get worse and worse each year.
Is it ever a good idea to use chemical herbicides?
Actually, yes. Chemical herbicides are useful tool when used properly. Unfortunately, when they are the ONLY tool their use becomes a problem. Chemical treatment is an effective “early response” tool for stopping the spread of invasive weeds in a lake. The key is to catch the infestation early and aggressively treat the infested areas.
Unfortunately, many Lake Communities have been “educated” by the industry that there are no potential harmful side-effects from prolonged, sustained chemical treatment year, after year. Just know that while a never-ending cycle of chemical treatment may be good for the bottom-line of your treatment company, it is bad for your lake!
Chemicals treat the symptoms of the problem while making the root cause worse. Weeds and algae can’t grow out of control without lots of food to fuel them. Fertilizers – the same ones that grow grass and crops regulate the growth of weeds and algae in a lake. Clean lakes with clean bottoms almost never have weed and algae problems. It’s that simple. Our approach is to implement strategies that clean your lake of the fertilizers and nutrients that fuel out of control growth.
Just remember, when you kill weeds and algae with chemicals, you are increasing the fertilizers and compost at the bottom that will fuel the next generation of growth. For this reason, chemical treatment might be a short-term necessity, but it is not the long-term solution for your lake.
Why is my lake a lot “muckier” than it was a few years ago?
Increasing muck in a lake is a sign that your lake is overloaded with fertilizers and nutrients and out of balance. Increasing muck means that your lake is no longer capable of breaking down all the dead leaves, dead weeds, dead algae, grass clippings etc. that fall or flow into it every year.
Think of your lake like a bucket. The leaves, weeds and algae are falling in to the bucket. Inside the bucket there is a whole natural ecosystem and process at work that can break down all of the dead material and keep the bottom of the bucket clean. Benefical bacteria break down this material, which then feeds the bugs and micro-organisms in the lake, which then provide food for fish and other wildlife up the food chain.
But, if material enters the bucket at a faster rate and higher volume than the processing capacity in the bucket, the dead material starts to pile up on the bottom – gradually filling up the bucket with muck.
Even worse is the fact that this process becomes a self-defeating cycle. The biological process that breaks down the dead leaves, weeds, etc. depends on dissolved oxygen to work. As more dead material accumulates on the bottom, more oxygen is consumed further reducing the capacity of the lake to break down the dead leaves, weeds and muck.
The bottom-line is that increasing muck at the bottom is a sign your lake is in trouble and in need of help.
How do I know if My Lake Needs Aeration?
The best way to determine if your lake is running out of oxygen and in need of aeration is to implement a testing program that uses an oxygen meter to measure dissolved oxygen levels all the way to the bottom.
However, there are a two simple informal tests you can use that can be done quickly and easily by anyone who lives on a lake. The first test is to talk to the best fisherman on your lake and find out how deep they are able to catch fish in the Summer months. For example, if your lake is 30 feet deep in its deepest spot, but you can never catch a fish or see fish on the fish-finder below 15-20 feet in the Summer, then it is a good bet that your lake is out of oxygen at the bottom and might be in need of aeration.
The second test can be done in shallower water. You can tell a lot by looking at the sediment at the bottom of your lake. First, is there a “mucky” soft bottom in lots of areas around the lake. Second, does it seem like the lake is getting “muckier” over the past several years. Third, pull up a handful of muck from the bottom. Is it dark brown or black? Does it have a real “greasy” feel to it. Does it have a “swamp gas odor”.
Lakes that are getting “muckier” and have muck that is very “soupy” and greasy in texture are very likely running out of oxygen at the bottom and are likely to be in need of aeration.
How Does Aeration Help My Lake?
Aeration, properly implemented, delivers three important benefits for your lake.
1. It accelerates the growth of beneficial aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria at the bottom. These beneficial microbes can literally eat up the compost pile of muck at the bottom. These beneficial microbes also form the base of a healthy fish food chain in your lake. But without oxygen that the bottom these “good” bacteria die. Leaving the muck at the bottom to pile up, fester and feed weed and algae growth in your lake. This is why we like to say that without high levels of dissolved oxygen your lake has little to no chance of keeping itself healthy.
2. Dissolved oxygen also prevents the chemical release of Phosphorus from the sediments at the bottom. In addition to the organic muck at the bottom that can fertilize weed and algae growth, there is almost always significant amounts of inorganic Phosphorus in the sediments of a lake. When the lake-bottom runs out of oxygen chemical reactions occur called Redox Reactions that release the inorganic Phosphorus previously locked up in the sediment into the water column above. The result is a “fertilizer factory” at the bottom of your lake that provides to fuel for out of control weed and algae growth.
As long as there is oxygen at the bottom these reactions do not occur and the “Fertilizer Factory” remains closed for business.
3. Oxygen give and sustains life for all the beneficial organisms you want to thrive in a lake. When your lake runs out of oxygen at the bottom, it becomes a dead zone with little to no life. This reduces the usable habitat for fish, depletes the food chain of the lake and allows harmful, disease causing bacteria to accumulate, emit odors and make your lake sick.
What is the difference between Pond Aeration Systems and Lake Aeration Systems?