With spring in the wings, seasonal pond wake-up chores call for attention. And in the spirit of the new season, I also suggest giving thought to climate change and how you can help your pond weather this disruptive phenomenon.
But let's start with spring chores. Spring arrives with the promise of good things on the horizon. And maintenance obligations to attend to so you can enjoy your pond to the fullest, and take advantage of its potential.
After the petrification of winter, spring wakens with a vengeance. Snowmelt, spring rains, and high runoff can trigger erosion, with visible and invisible results. It might mean inflows and spillways disintegrate, or erode terrain around the pond, or both. And high volume pond inflows and watershed runoff into the pond can deliver unwelcome amounts of sediment.
Take occasional walks around the pond during spring to look for damage done, and damage you might be able to forestall or minimize.
Look at inflow channels and piping. Earthen channels should be flowing unobstructed, allowing high volumes to enter and leave the pond without eroding the watercourse or
overflowing channel banks. Any blockages (sediment, stones, debris, collapsed sides) should be fixed. Stream diversions and detours will need to be repaired, and proper watercourses reestablished.
Pipes can also take a hit. Spillway pipes may have been displaced by frozen ground or ice. Pipes may be plugged by eroded sediment. Water flowing around the outside of displaced pipes may need repair, especially if dam stability is threatened.
Look for sediment piling up where inflows enter the pond. These inflow sediment deltas may build up slowly or suddenly if inflow volume and velocity, and channel erosion, are severe. Excavation of the sediment soil may be necessary, as well as installation of a stream sediment pool to trap erosion before it enters the pond.
Sediment may also be accumulating in the main pond, often happening most in spring. If you suspect this, it should be checked out, and depending on severity (reduced pond depth; high nutrient load) a sediment cleanout completed. You can often measure sediment with a long 1" diameter plastic pipe, feeling for when the pipe strikes a hardpan below the sediment. It can be done by a diver, too.
If you stock fish you'll be looking to see how they fared after the ice melts and the water warms. Depending on species they may be easy to see, or not. Trout for instance may lie low until you fear they disappeared, then emerge when the water warms and flies begin hatching, or their metabolism revs up enough to stimulate an appetite for fish feed. Seeing dead fish is not a good sign, though it's not unusual for some winter mortality. Seeing few to no fish could mean predators such as otters or birds took them out.
Spring is time for fish stocking if your schedule calls for it. Check with your hatchery supplier to coordinate stocking with pond temperature, fish species, and size, etc.
Spring is also time to restart your aeration system if it was shut down last fall. In most cases diffusion aeration is most effective, operating 24/7 above 45/50F. Keeping the grass around the pond mowed will help discourage geese from nesting if geese have been a problem.
Portable docks and swim rafts will be going back into the water. Beach sand may need refreshing. You may want to rake out leaves and debris from around the shoreline and spillway. But be careful not to start so early that you rake up hibernating frogs and salamanders.
As the new pond year begins I suggest you give some thought to climate change and how it is affecting your pond. Meteorological extremes are becoming the norm, such as freeze-fry whiplashes, record drought and flood, and milky sunless skies that cast a pall on scene and mood, not to mention reducing the effectiveness of solar electric generation.
The effect on ponds is not good. Reduced sunlight and windless days reduce photosynthesis in pond plant life, thus cutting oxygen production and plant and beneficial bacteria growth. This is a result of sunlight blocking, and whether it's a result of manmade pollution, intentional climate control, or both, your pond is affected.
Some of the things you can do to offset climate change include improving the saturated oxygen content in your pond, usually with diffusion aeration; and cooling the pond water when needed with supplementary water. Pond temperatures can also be cooled by making sure you have sufficient depth/water volume to offset atmospheric heating, and creating shaded areas with docks and underwater habitats, such as rock piles. If depth is a problem the pond may need a sediment cleanout or deepening.
If in fact, geoengineers are manipulating the climate/weather, the fallout from aircraft "chemtrails" may be affecting pond water.
Aircraft contrails may include more than the condensation of engine fuel. Fly ash soot, barium, and aluminum are a few of the ingredients alleged to make up many of the visible contrails we see in stripes and tic tac toe patterns across the skies. If these nanoparticles are falling in your pond, the effect on pond life can't be good. Could this be why we see such a dramatic rise in algae growth and loss of beneficial bacteria and zooplankton that would normally digest pond nutrients? Is geoengineering Purelling our ponds?
This is a controversial topic that most mainstream media and weather professionals dismiss as a conspiracy theory. On the other hand, it's unlikely that the corporations that run the country are not aware of what's going on, and in fact building and selling the geoengineering products. And if they're not telling us about it, that's why we're not hearing about it. Weather forecasters, reporters, academics, etc., have jobs and pensions to protect.
Sound outlandish? If you sense something is strange with the climate/weather, do some investigating yourself. I have found over the years that pond owners are some of the most environmentally savvy and eco-friendly folks around, and eager to learn.
The following are links to several excellent sites and articles that document what may be happening to the skies. And by extension, your pond. Draw your own conclusions.
Extensively researched and documented series on geoengineering, by Ian Baldwin. A great place to start.
An excellent site that covers most aspects of geoengineering with in-depth articles, talks, maps, and a weekly podcast/broadcast by site host Dane Wiggington.
Geo-engineering news, stories, videos, charts, diagrams. Excellent visuals and discussions by host Jim Lee.
Topics vary from month to month and provide great information when researching where you want to build a pond, or how to keep it clean. Other areas of interest are pond use for more than swimming, and how to keep fish happy in your pond.