To those of you who own ponds and lakes in drought stricken areas during the last half of 2011, congratulations! You are probably getting some relief now. Chances are, though, that you have not seen a full recovery yet, but you probably see some hope for the first time in several months. Some areas suffered 100 degree plus temperatures for more than 90 days, and if the forecasters are right, you are due a mild summer this year. If you took the opportunnity to follow the advice we offered here during the drought, you should have everything in good condition going forward. We know one marina owner who took the opportunity to rebuild his existing docks and slips, and add several more slips. This will pay off in higher earnings for many years to come.
I wanted to list a few things that you should keep in mind while the water is returning to your beleaguered ponds and lakes:
- Check your pH early and often. Proper pH balance will lead to proper ecosystem balance in your pond or lake, especially if you need to fertilize.
- Turbidity may be a problem for a while until vegetation returns. Be prepared to flock your pond or lake if needed.
- Aerify if needed. Low water volume and less vegetation may lead to low dissolved oxygen levels. You may have to stir the water.
- Vegetation may be needed, both in the lake itself, and especially on the watershed. Make sure that something appropriate is growing both in, and around your pond. For the pond itself, choose non invasive native water loving plants. At least this way, you get to choose.
- Keep a sharp eye out for invasive exotic weeds. The lower water levels were an advantage if you took the opportunity to exterminate them while the drought conditions existed. Don’t lose that advantage now!
- It is going to take a lot of water and time to fill the last few feet. Ponds and lakes resemble funnels, it takes very little liquid to fill the spout, but the volume needed increases as the area increases. A foot of water at the bottom of a pond is a lot less water than the top foot.
- You will lose some of your gains through evaporation and saturation. Some will go back into the water cycle through the clouds, and some through the ground, and remember that the ground around your pond and lake will naturally absorb some water over time. Don’t lose heart as this happens.
- Due to lower water volume, and shallow water, you will probably experience an outbreak of pond scum. If this happens, take the measures to get rid of it, and start a low volume fertilizer program as soon as possible.
- If you think you have enough water to restock, make sure that everything else on this list is done first, and then proceed slowly and cautiously until water levels stabilize and conditions return to something resembling normal.
- As water levels approach normal ranges, be sure to inspect your dam frequently. It would be a shame to lose your water to a leaky dam at this stage.