Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pond Water

The pond has certainly not been lacking for water this spring. I’m seeing plenty of salamander larvae and the frogs and toads are still busy laying eggs. The brown water is discouraging, but that’s something you have to put up with when you don’t control the entire watershed.

The water is actually cleaner than what it appears in the first photo. Although I’d prefer to have clear water, what I have doesn’t seem to have any noticeable negative effects on the pond life.

Following a heavy rain, we have a rapid inflow of water traveling overland. When the overland flow subsides, inflow continues from underground sources. I would never lack water if this spring flow would continue, but within a couple days it will slow to a trickle. The cave system that channels this water is only a few feet below the ground and doesn’t have the capacity to hold much water. It is fed by the rapid infiltration of rain water during a storm. The passage through the soil removes any sediment from the water, so it emerges from the ground perfectly clear.

This is what produces the sediment that clouds the pond. The Township road runs uphill in both directions from my driveway. The first bit of runoff from the road carries the dust in my direction. Fortunately, things have been fixed so the water leaves the road before reaching the driveway. This allows some of the sediment to be filtered out by the grass.

Water from across the road travels through a culvert and heads directly for the pond. This is the major source of unclean runoff.

Water that exits the road into my field gets trapped behind an old lane embankment. As the water is held in this temporary pond, the sediment begins to settle out. Much of this water filters through the ground and emerges in the spring. Very little sediment passes this point.

My portion of the watershed is protected by a healthy vegetative growth. When I first moved here, the compacted soils shed water very quickly and it didn’t take much rain before you saw water running off the field. The soil structure has improved tremendously over the past 25 years and much more water filters down into the soil rather than running off.

If water is going to run from a field, this is what it should look like. Sediment laden water is so common that many people don’t realize it can be clear. My goal is to have the water leaving my property to be as clear as it can possibly be.


  1. Steve,

    I notice in some of the pics you have teasel plants, do you have any plans to manage these? Have you come across any practical management techniques?

  2. Hi, David. Eliminating Teasel is definitely on my list of things to do. So far, other activities have been a greater priority. I have been able to eliminate the Teasel from test blocks by spraying glyphosate in the center of the basal rosettes. I set my sprayer for a concentrated stream and hit each plant only in the center. No non-target plants were hurt.

    I've also thinned out some heavy stands by cutting the plants at about the time they begin to flower. Since they primarily grow as biennials, reducing the number of flowers will reduce the number of future plants.

    Both methods are labor intensive and time consuming. After I've gotten some of the nastier invasives under control, I'll give more attention to the Teasels.