The summer sun beckons you to get outside and have some fun. Yet, every year seems to bring new stories about people getting sick after they go swimming in a natural body of water. While lakes aren’t chlorinated like your community pool might be, you don’t have to opt out of enjoying a dip in your favorite local swimming hole. Being smart about how and when you swim is all it takes to stay as safe as possible during your aquatic activities this summer.
Watch For the Signs of Unsafe Lake Water
Lake water is exposed to runoff from storms along with temperature changes that can all impact the delicate ecosystem in and around the water. Pollutants, toxic algae and hazardous bacteria are a few of the potential things that could be lurking in the water that might make you sick.
Sometimes, you can tell if the lake water is unsafe just by giving it a good look. Toxic algae blooms can cause discoloration and murkiness in the water. You might also see a large amount of algae growing in the water or along the shoreline. When algae levels are high, you can experience stomach or respiratory distress. Waiting until the water clears up is best in this instance.
You’ll also want to watch out for water that is hotter than normal. While a warm lake won’t necessarily cause you harm, it can increase the amount of bacteria that exists in the water. Swallowing the bacteria as you swim could also make you sick.
The final thing to check is the overall health of the fish in the lake. Seeing a large amount of fish die-off is a major warning sign. If the fish can’t survive in the water, then you have to wonder if there is something in the water that could also affect your health.
Take Extra Precautions As You Swim
Even when the water looks great, you’ll want to follow a few basic safety practices. For example, you’ll need to avoid swimming when you have an open wound that could allow bacteria to enter your body and cause an infection. It is also best to keep your eyes closed when you swim and avoid getting water in your nose and mouth.
After you go swimming, make sure to shower and monitor yourself for symptoms. If you feel sick within a few days after swimming, then visit the doctor and let them know you recently enjoyed a day at the lake.
Clear Up Potential Lake Water Hazards
For the safest swimming experience, you’ll want to have a professional monitor the lake water. Lake management companies in Florida have the know-how that is necessary to identify potential hazards to human health that could exist in the water. If a problem is found, then they can recommend a solution for helping to ensure that everyone who swims in the lake stays safe.
The allure of a sparkling lake is hard to resist, and there is no reason why anyone should have to opt out of a refreshing dip. While the health of lake water can change within a short period of time, it is also possible to treat the issue quickly when you identify its source. Making lake management a priority means that you’ll be able to feel comfortable as you swim with your friends and family this summer.
If you have a lake on your property, you may be familiar with golden algae. It's possible you have questions about it. Golden algae is a single-celled organism that can be found in all sorts of water bodies around the world. Typically, you'll see it in coastal areas, but it also lives in lakes and rivers.
Often, this algae is quite harmless. However, it can become a problem if it's able to bloom. Blooming is a phase in which the algae grows and reproduces rapidly. When this occurs, the levels of toxins produced by the golden algae can actually kill aquatic life. Anything with gills can be affected. This includes fish, clams and mussels, as well as amphibians in the gill-breathing stage such as frogs.
The discovery of golden algae occurred in 2005. It was found in an Arizona man-made lake, and its origin remains unknown. What is known is that it is able to spread rapidly, much like other invasive aquatic species. Because it contains chlorophyll, it is able to produce its own food through sunlight and other nutrients. In order to feed, it must release chemical compounds in combination with minerals. This emission creates the toxins that kill fish.
There remains some mystery around the formation of golden algae. A means of controlling it has not yet been developed for rivers and large reservoirs. Fortunately, there are some effective treatments for ponds and small reservoirs.
Qualified pond and lake management companies in Florida can help you to test for golden algae and to treat blooms. The key to rapid management is to detect it early so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. You may need to remain vigilant, as previously treated waters can become reinfected.
Golden algae can attack gill-breathing aquatic life for varying periods, sometimes even lasting months. The location being affected can change over time; an entire water body may not experience growth. You'll often see golden algae in the cooler months. In warmer temperatures, it may be controlled as other types of algae begin to grow.
It is not possible to completely remove golden algae growth, but the spread can be prevented by treating the water body with an algecide. Copper sulfate is often effective. Another way spread can be prevented is with the assistance of those who fish for recreation. It's essential to make sure fishing equipment is completely dry before using it in a different body of water.
Golden algae can be a real problem. While it does spread, this doesn't necessarily mean you will see harmful results such as fish kills. It's a good idea to contact one of the pond and lake management companies in Florida to help you determine if you have golden algae and, if so, how to best manage it.
The warm weather in Florida can cause un-aerated ponds and lakes to hold less dissolved oxygen. This can create an environment that is difficult for fish to survive in, so you should be extra careful when treating aquatic vegetation and algae when it's hot outside.
The chemicals involved in the treatment of aquatic vegetation and algae can make the oxygen levels in the water drop even lower than they already are in the summer. The chemicals themselves are not harmful to fish, but the waste they tend to leave behind can be because the decomposition process takes away even more oxygen necessary for fish to thrive. As a result, doing these types of treatments during the warmest months of the year can create a very toxic environment for fish.
High Water Temperatures Can Be Life Threatening
Some species of fish, like largemouth bass, can start to die in water that has exceeded 90 degrees. Other species will begin to die at 95 degrees. Fish succumbing to heat can be pretty common in Florida's warm climate. Most often, this occurs in shallow bodies of water, like ponds, that tend to experience quite a lot of evaporation during the summer months. This type of environment doesn't allow fish to escape to deeper, cooler water at the bottom. Bodies of water that are 8 feet or more deep in at least 25% of the area they cover are less likely to experience the extreme temperatures that can cause fish to die.
Oxygen Levels are Key to Fish Survival
The dissolved oxygen levels in bodies of water are influenced by a variety of things, like temperature, sunlight, waves, water clarity, and even the time of day. When the sun is out, plenty of light gets into the water, which can be beneficial to aquatic plants and algae because it allows them to create more oxygen. Unfortunately, overcast days that are very warm can cause dissolved oxygen levels to fall. Because of this, dissolved oxygen levels usually vary on a regular basis. They are the highest in the afternoon after the sun is at its strongest. Conversely, they are at their lowest just before the sun rises because plants and algae in the water consume a lot of oxygen at night. Ponds that have a lot of algae or weed growth and are not maintained usually see the most substantial changes in oxygen levels. In severe cases, fish can die because of this even if no other dangerous factors are present.
Continuously checking water is an important part of maintaining a healthy pond or lake environment. Pond management companies in Florida recommend avoiding treatment for algae and aquatic weeds until the weather is cool enough. Although warmer temperatures can often exacerbate algae and weed growth and cause water to look unsightly, the alternative is much worse in this case.
Too often, when people hear the word bacteria, they imagine something that you need to get rid of. While it is true that some bacteria can make you sick, there are many types that are beneficial, or even necessary. When you have a pond or other large body of water, bacteria help keep the water healthy.
What You Should Know About Bacteria in Ponds
A pond, like any ecosystem, is constantly changing. The cycle of birth and death, for both plants and animals, is an important part of the lifecycle of the pond. Bacteria are vital for this process. They play a key role in breaking down organic matter. Without bacteria's help, the decomposition period would be much slower, which would have an adverse effect on water quality.
Working with pond management companies in Florida is a good way to ensure your pond has the correct balance of bacteria.
What can you expect from a healthy pond?
Fewer algae blooms- Algae blooms are, unfortunately, part of living in Florida. Algae blooms pull oxygen from the water and block out sunlight. Both of these factors lead to the death of aquatic life.
Slower plant growth- Not only do the correct bacteria levels in your pond keep algae levels low, but it also slows the growth of underwater plants. While some vegetation is nice, the growth can easily get out of hand if the soil is too rich in nutrients. Good bacteria work to digest sediment and lower the nutrient load of your pond.
Healthier soil- The bacteria work hard to convert decaying matter, fallen leaves, and other organic materials, into nutrients.
Clear water- Good bacteria keep the oxygen levels in the water at a healthy level, which in turn keeps the water clear.
Sweet, odor-free water- Nobody likes the smell of stagnant water. Keeping bacteria levels at a healthy level helps balance the ecosystem in your pond. This allows the water to remain odor-free throughout the year.
Maintaining Your Pond
Keeping your pond healthy doesn't have to be complicated. Pond management companies in Florida are experts at balancing the bacteria levels as well as providing other maintenance services.
While many landowners hope to perform maintenance on their ponds on their own, the process is complicated and best left to the experts. Adding beneficial bacteria to your pond requires that you know what is currently lacking in the water and how to bring the levels up to where they should be for clear, clean water.
Working with a professional allows you to apply the right amount of product when it is needed. Each pond has different requirements, depending on the inflow rate, size, and time of year.
Other considerations, such as whether the pond has an aeration system, are also important. Adding an aeration system, such as a floating fountain, can help the bacteria work more economically.
If you are struggling with your pond, or have in the past, the addition of beneficial bacteria may be just what you need.
Native plants are a vital part of a pond’s ecosystem. They provide nutrients to the fish, aquatic insects, and other animals that live around the water source. Aquatic plants can also act as a filter to help remove impurities and keep the water clean. Unfortunately, invasive aquatic weeds can harm the natural beauty and health of a pond, lake, or waterway.
Invasive aquatic weeds in Florida’s ponds can destroy the ecosystem and be an unsightly nuisance. Fortunately, there are several ways to remove and control these damaging aquatic plants to maintain the beauty of these bodies of water for the community. Below, we will describe the different types of invasive aquatic plants that are common in Florida and how to treat these damaging plants in various bodies of water.
Floating Aquatic Weeds
Floating aquatic weeds are hard to control. They do not have a root system, they multiply rapidly, and move around the pond with the water current and wind. Some types of floating aquatic weeds common in Florida include Duckmeal, Watermeal, and Water Hyacinth.
American Pondweed, Hydrilla, Elodea, and Coontail are types of submerged plants that are common in Florida. Submerged plants grow and live underwater and have a root system that extends into the pond floor. These plants grow where they can get plenty of light, consistent temperatures, and nutrients. The problem is that submerged plants are dense and cause fish to avoid areas where they grow. These invasive plants also restrict water flow, remove oxygen, and create dangerous water conditions.
All healthy aquatic ecosystems have algae. Algae provide food and other nutrients to aquatic organisms that thrive in lakes and ponds. Yet, too many algae can be a problem because it can cause harmful algae blooms. Algae bloom releases harmful toxins in the air and is dangerous to humans and animals.
Torpedograss, Napier grass, and Paragrass are harmful emergent plants that grow in wetlands and along the shoreline. Some emergent plants are beneficial to the health and beauty of an aquatic ecosystem. Yet, the harmful emergent plants can spread quickly and cause similar problems as submerged plants.
Controlling Aquatic Weeds
There are many ways pond management companies in Florida can control the weeds in your pond. These include:
• Aeration – This method uses devices to keep the water circulating and oxygenated to prevent the excessive growth of algae and aquatic weeds.
• Native Fish – Certain fish can disrupt the growth of algae and aquatic weeds to keep these invasive plants under control.
• Mechanical Harvesting and Hydro-Raking – Mechanical aquatic weed harvesting removes large amounts of damaging plants.
• Nutrient Remediation and Bacteria Augmentation – This method is a natural way to eliminate the nutrients that aquatic weeds and algae need to thrive.
Ponds and other water sources add beauty to the surrounding area and be a habitat for local wildlife. Contact one of the many pond management companies in Florida if you need maintenance services in your community.
At Crosscreek Environmental, we believe in providing a comprehensive, environmentally friendly approach in creating solutions to maintain the beauty and health of Florida's ponds, lakes, wetlands, and shorelines. We use the B.E.S.T.™ geo-tube solution and are one of the best geo-tube solution providers in the state of Florida.