Pond Cleaning Questions
Years ago we finished a project for Underwriter's Laboratories in Northbrook, Illinois. Not only did they like our prices, but they were very impressed with how well our system could target specific problem areas, saving time and money. I guess you could say that we are UL approved.
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions. Hope this helps!
Do you service my area?
We service projects throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
What size ponds can you clean?
Around 1116 acre to 10 acres, but we can also target specific areas oflakes, lake fronts, harbors and hard-to-reach areas such as pump stations and irrigation systems.
How often does this have to be done?
We see an accumulation of Y2 inch to 1 inch of sediment per year, depending upon the trees around the property. Our own personal ponds, which are % acre in size, 15 feet deep, and in a heavily-wooded area, were cleaned 25 years ago. Initially, we were spending an unreasonable amount of money on chemicals, fiocculants, aeration equipment, bacteria, etc. in order to control weeds and algae, with limited results. Once we developed this system and cleaned our pond, we spent no more than $100 annually on maintenance. So, depending upon how well you maintain your pond after cleaning, it should last 20-25 years.
How does your system work?
Here is a simple experiment. Take a 12-16 once glass and fill it with milk. Add one inch of chocolate syrup and it should settle in the bottom where you can see it. Now, place a straw in the bottom and suck the chocolate out. See, you’re left with a pure glass of milk-no chocolate. The glass of milk represents the pond and the chocolate represents the muck. Now, try the same experiment removing the syrup with a spoon. Didn’t fair so well. Those are the other methods. Our system hydraulically (suction removal) removes the decaying sediment from the bottom of ponds. Any area can be specifically targeted and is incredibly cost-efficient and environmentally friendly.
Will this adversely affect aquatic life and fish?
No. Our system does not harm the wildlife. You do not have to relocate any aquatic life.
What do you do with all the sludge that you pump out?
Most people have enough property to discharge on site. If not, we provide other alternatives. We can use silt containers, which compress and filter the sediments or, our newly-developed shoreline restoration and erosion control with the same sediments.
Will this destroy any of my property?
No, because of its liquid form, gravity will disperse it evenly among the grasses and fields. In addition, it is so nutriently rich that the plants love it and so do the farmers if fields are available.
How far can you pump the sediment?
2,000 feet. Booster pumps can be used to pump further distances.
Do you come out and inspect the ponds and give estimates?
Only if the pre-planning stages require it. Looking at the surface of a pond dosen’t tell much. With our 29 years of experience, if I know the size and age, I am usually very accurate of how much time it will take to clean a specific pond or area. If I think a project will take 20 hours and we finish in 18 hours, you will only be charged the 18 hours. Everyone likes time and material charges, even our commerical friends. Other projects may require baythometric studies, sediment analysis, and discharge-site planning, which are added costs.
Do you have to clean the entire pond?
No, we are mainly concerned with the organic bio-mass which has settled in the deepest areas. This is the area creating the most environmental damage to the pond. We know this because in some cases, due to budgets, we removed sediments from all of the deeper bowl area or half the pond. The following year we would finish the rest of the pond or other half. The pond cleaned up so well, it was five years later before the client called us back to finish the pond, which confirms that any start is a good start.
How much sediment can you remove?
In one pond, we removed 18 feet of organic sediment before we reached the original bottom. Most ponds, however, have an average of 1-3 feet of sediment.
How much does this cost?
Because all ponds are so different, we charge on a daily basis, time and material. This avoids wasting our clients' time and money on ponds that we finish ahead of schedule. Naturally, a ~ acre pond with 5 feet of sediment is going to take a lot longer than a % acre pond with 1 foot of sediment, which usually takes us two
days. Daily rates are obtained by request.
Why do ponds have to be cleaned?
Mother Nature tries to reclaim all bodies of water. In the deeper water lies anaerobic bacteria which cannot decompose the onslaught of organic matter. This material slowly builds as a nutrient rich compost, or natural fertilizer plant, saturating the water with nitrogen, phosphates, sulfur dioxide, methane gases, and the list goes on. This causes excessive algae and weed growth, foul water, and sometimes fish kill. All this dies through the winter, adding and compounding a vicious cycle that builds over time, filling in our ponds.
What about aeration systems?
About 80% of the ponds that we clean have aeration systems, (mine included). After following instructions and $5,800 a year later, I dove to the bottom of my pond and shoved my hand up to my shoulder in solid muck, which was not supposed to be there if aeration systems and all the bacteria we put in were that effective. That's when I developed our system. I think aeration systems are a big plus to alleviate some of the gases mentioned above from saturating into the water. But as for decomposing sludge from the bottom, my personal experience and others' have had little success. After we clean a pond, I think aeration systems are a great help in keeping a pond cleaner and healthier longer.
What is the difference between your system and mechanical excavators?
Water is a disadvantage to heavy equipment. A reputable excavator will drain the pond first to ensure that the sediment solidifies to a more manageable and solid form; otherwise, the sediment will just slop around the blade; they will get stuck, and it's a real bear. That is why they charge such an ungodly amount. Check around. The average cost is around $65,000 per acre foot. To dragline wet, remember the sediment is in a soft suspended liquid state. When the bucket hits the sediment, the sediment explodes in the water, saturating the entire water column, (like a spoon stirring chocolate in milk.) Yes, you will have a deeper pond, because they can remove the hard clays and soils at the bottom when they dig. But when they are finished and the suspended sediments in the pond settles, you are right back where you started, along with costly re-Iandscaping.
Our system uses the water to our advantage. Heres a perfect example: Pour a fresh glass of milk and add liquid chocolate. Try and remove the chocolate with a spoon. Try this again using a straw instead. Insert the straw into the chocolate at the bottom, draw up all the chocolate and watch how fast and efficient.
What are the benefits of Shoreline Restoration and Erosion Control?
We have developed a system that uses the removed sediments from the bottom of the pond and places them back on the eroded shoreline. The benefits are: your pond is cleaned and shoreline is restored all in one process, you are using your own material, no new material has to be hauled in, the material is rich in nutrients allowing plants and sod to establish quickly, long lasting, high water retention, low maintenance, rodent proof and low cost.
What happens after my pond is cleaned?
After we clean the ponds, we advise you how to take care of it afterwards, so you can enjoy a healthy and fruitful pond for years to come.
How can I keep my pond clean longer?
It is best to clear brush, hanging tree limbs, and overhanging trees from around the pond. Willow trees can make a real mess to a pond if they are planted too close to the banks. Tall grasses act like a fence and keep leaves and other debris from entering the pond. Rake leaves and grass clippings as soon as possible to prevent them from blowing into the pond. Implement an algae and weed-control maintenance program. This prevents large amounts of vegetation from growing, dying and turning into sediment. If possible, you may want to invest in an aeration system at this time. This will help keep fresh water at the bottom of the pond. More importantly, because the bottom of the pond is clean, there is a chance of keeping aerobic bacteria alive in the bottom of the pond which will help decompose newlyintroduced, organic matter and remove toxic gases. This is almost impossibility when the pond is full of muck and the toxic gases have saturated into the bottom water column. Aerobic bacteria cannot survive in that environment.
We hope we have answered your questions. If you have any further questions please contact us.