Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pond Issues

All bodies of water are different, different sizes, shapes, depths and many other factors that make no two ponds alike.  This means that they are all different ecosystems.

We have 7 different water retainage areas on the course. I will go over each of them in this post and describe the issues that we have, some historical information and the efforts that we have put forth.


First off #7 has a very special place in my heart, My beautiful wife and I were married on the edge of that pond.  It is one of the 2 fondest memories that I have, the other being the birth of my son.  This hole is also the "signature" hole for the golf course.  It is a retainage pond.  It has had issues in the past with algae, not bad issues but issues none the less.  This year there was a die off of fish in that pond.  The cause of the fish die off was a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water column.  There were several factors that led to the oxygen burn.  The main factors were water temperature, having a fountain missing, and a hot stretch of summer followed by a cold rainfall.  The process of a fish kill is a rough process.  When any organism in a water body dies the decomposition process burns oxygen in the water, so a body of water that is low in oxygen gets lower.  It's like rolling a boulder down a hill the further it goes the harder it is to stop.  However, we had employees out there cleaning up dead fish with pool skimmers trying to keep the amount of decomposition and odor to a minimum.  I think we did a great job responding to the issue in a timely fashion.
A brief history on this pond.  It has gone dry 2 times since the construction that I know of.  Once was about 5 years ago and once was well before my time. 
The homeowners that live around the ponds have been managing  and maintaining the fountains in the ponds for the last 10+ years.  We met with that "Pond HOA" and they have given us the control of the fountains.  They did a great job with those fountains for a long time.  We have already changed out the nozzles on the units to throw more water and create more oxygen and surface cooling.  we have gone from 400 Gallons Per Minute to 1500 GPM, a large difference.  I am currently investigating different fish species to introduce to this area.  predatory fish like bass to keep the number of smaller fish down, triploid grass carp to help keep the ponds clean and we have used tilapia in the past to help combat algae.  I am also researching colorants for this area to block UV rays and prohibit algae populations.


This pond has no issues.  It used to be a hazard on the course that had dried up because of the inability to fill it.  Since gaining that ability the pond has sealed up and is holding water nicely and is again a hazard.


This pond is the start of a storm water runoff system.  The water that runs into it comes from HWY 231 and surrounding areas.  It used to be one of the sources of our irrigation water.  It has issues with primrose, an aquatic plant that is easily controlled with 2,4-D or Diquat.  Both of these herbicides are acceptable to apply in water bodies and safe to fish.  Since it is a storm water system the water column is changed over frequently with large rainfall events.  I have simply not had the time to treat this pond lately and that's on me.  This pond is also about 4 feet deep and has about 3 feet of sediment in the bottom.


This pond is on the far right as you drive in the neighborhood.  It is the same scenario as #11 an storm water collection system that used to be part of our irrigation source.  the pond on #11 feeds to #12 and It also gets fed by all surface runoff from areas south of this from Runnymeade Drive north.  So this pond gets double the input that #11 gets.  It is about 4 feet deep with a rock bottom.  UV rays penetrate it easily to allow algae and other plants to grow in it easily.  In the past there were major algae issues with this area.  The neighbors banded together that lived around this area about 9 years ago.  They purchased and installed 3 fountains with IHGC's blessing, 2 in #12 and 1 in #13.  These were small 110 volt fountains that did not exchange much water and could not cool off the water column because there is no cool water to draw from in the summer on a 4 ft deep pond.  After a while these fountains were just sucking up the muck on the bottom of the ponds and getting clogged up with debris.  They became more of a maintenance nightmare than they were worth.  It was a good effort but a poor fit for the process.
That being said we do not have an algae issue in this pond this year so much as we have a duckweed infestation.  Duckweed is a naturally occurring plant that is one of the smallest complete plants on earth.  It is about the size of a pencil tip.  If you are interested in researching the plant click on the highlighted name above and it will take you to Wikipedia.  The problem with duckweed is that it is very hard to kill in our environment  the plant already has a seed by the time it hits the surface and releases that seed when killed so surface herbicides, diquat, do not work well.  There is a product that I tried at the correct application rates, "Sonar".  This herbicide has the ability to treat the entire water column, kill plants and seeds.  Its issue is that it needs to be active in a body of water for 48 days and it is very expensive.  I estimate that our application was active for about 7 days before the rains flushed that chemical out of the water body.  It is really hard for me to justify spending someone else's hard earned money on a issue that is almost guaranteed no win scenario.  Do not misread that statement, that does not mean that I am not going to do anything about it, it means that I am going to be very careful about what I do.  I had attempted 3 diquat applications this summer and 1 sonar application.  You also have to remember the statement from #7 pond about organisms decomposing in relation to oxygen content.  So if we kill of all of the vegetative material in a 4 foot deep pond at once it will burn off oxygen and "shock" the pond thus potentially killing fish.  I have to follow the rule of thirds when treating the ponds as not to create a different problem.  the rule of thirds is to never treat a heavily invested pond by more than 1/3 of the surface area at one time as to protect the other ecology in that environment from damage.


This is the closest pond to the road on the right as you drive in.  It is also part of the storm water runoff system and has the same issues as #12.  The duckweed moves with water and gravity, down stream.  This pond would have small algae blooms in the Spring each season as the temps came up.  But, it had one natural defense, it is a very deep pond with flow through.  The depth allowed the water to remain cooler and reduced the ability of UV rays to penetrate to the bottom and breed algae.


This pond is on the left side of the entrance as you drive in the neighborhood.  It is our irrigation holding pond.  It contains IHGC's water once it is in this pond it is IHGC's and no one else's.  the brick house on 231 side is our pumping station.  It is state of the art and we are very proud of it.  The water in the pond is effluent water the same kind of water that many golf courses around the town and the world are trying to use.  We do this in order to reduce our environmental footprint.  We are not the first golf course to use effluent water and we will not be the last.  Effluent water can be from many different sources but ours is processed treated water.  It is not sewer nor has it ever been water that went down a toilet.  One quality and burden of Effluent water is that it contains nutrients Phosphorus particularly which is a key food source for algae.  Also the effluent is warmer and creates another algae breeding scenario.  You will notice that it can get kind of a pea soup look in the summer, this is green algae trying to bloom in the water column.  About 7 years ago in the infancy of our Effluent usage we had a complete coverage of algae on that pond.  After that we installed 2 Sonic Devices that emit ultrasonic sonar wavelengths that actually destroy the algae at a cellular level as it is trying to form.  These devices have done a great job in control of algae blooms.  Remember this is our irrigation source and we apply this water to the grass on the golf course so there is the concern of herbicide transference and damage to the course by herbicide applications in this pond.  I do not believe that we require any herbicide applications to this pond at this time.


This pond is having trouble holding water at a certain depth  It is a small hazard pond on the course.  we may try to add some bentonite to the banks in the future to seal up any leaks.

This season we have had several complaints made to regulatory authorities with concerns about our water areas by neighbors of the course.  I have been working with TDEC since the complaints started on #18, 13 and 7.  They are well aware of the issues that we face.  I have explained with them what our management attempts are and have been.  They have agreed with my strategies.

There are other methods of algae control such as sub surface bubbler systems that release air at the bottom of the pond and help create aeration and circulation of the water.

I am happy to accept phone calls on the issues or any golf course related issue.  I can also be found on social media @bradmarcy on Twitter.

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