Friday, February 13, 2009

Pond Edge Enhancement

When we first moved to Indiana I was surprised by all of the retention ponds here. They are literally everywhere. My neighborhood of 185 homes has three of them.



For the past few years I have been concerned about the water quality of those ponds. Our home was one of the first to be built, and during our first few years we saw a lot of frogs.



We've lived here eight years now and I rarely see a frog anymore. I am convinced that it is because of the pollution in the ponds.

I have a storm drain at the back edge of my property. Any chemical or fertilizer that could be used would run directly into that drain and straight into the pond during a rain. Rain water along with all of the pollutants from our yards goes directly into the ponds, rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs.



Morse Reservoir has recently had water quality issues with Blue-green algae. The algae can be harmful to aquatic life, pets, and humans. It is believed to be caused by fertilizer runoff from the homes located around the lake and the streams that feed into the reservoir. It has high levels of phosphorus, which is most likely caused by lawn fertilizer which is feeding the algae.



Our own neighborhood ponds have to be treated regularly during the year for algae growth. The lawn fertilizer feeds the algae and it is a vicious cycle of chemicals causing the problem and more chemicals to treat the problem. There's not much of a chance for aquatic life in that cesspool of chemicals.



There is a wonderful solution to this problem. According to Mr. Stottlemyer, the Chief Operator of the Storm Water Division of the City of Noblesville Utilities, (how would you like to have that lengthy title?), it is the "magic bullet" to help preserve and protect our precious water supply. The solution is to create a buffer of plants along the edge of ponds to absorb the fertilizer before it enters the water.



This buffer of plants also acts as a deterrent for geese, which can be a nuisance in large numbers. They graze on lawns, adding to the problem of soil erosion on the pond banks. Their droppings fertilize the ponds contributing to algae growth. They can also be very aggressive defenders of their nests.

The City of Noblesville Utilities is currently looking for possible sites to do this project and they have grant money available for those that are chosen. I am on our Home Owner's Association board and I am so excited that my neighborhood has requested an application to be considered as a recipient for this project. I hope we are selected!

Here is some helpful information, from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, for those communities that rely on ponds for storm water runoff.




20 comments:

Diana said...

Robin -- How interesting. I, too have been surprised by the number of retention ponds in IN. Maybe it's for all that snow run-off?! We don't have the problem here, since we have no water to retain. Behind our lot, there is a huge piece of property that has a low water spot and it's designated as flood plain on the plat. Though it isn't often, when we do get rain, I can hear the frogs and the ducks and geese cavorting around back there. Because it's in the middle of a piece of undeveloped land, it's probably ecologically safe, but you've really made me think about the run-off. That's why I don't use chemical fertilizer in my yard.

queenofseaford said...

Robin, Great information. We too have ponds in our area...they fall under the name of stormwater retention ponds. The health of the pond is an issue that the extension office addresses. Proper planting of filtering shoreline plants is essential. Thanks for a great informational post.
Janet

tina said...

I drove to Chicago a few years ago and I too was amazed at the number of retention ponds. It made sense since the state seems mighty flat to me. I am agreeing with you on the frogs. It is rare to find a stream or pond that is not harmed in someway by runoff. I like plants to filter the runoff on my property. I use touch me nots with great abandon in my little garden. They are excellent to filter the runoff and easy to grow. I think it also helps by slowing down the runoff too. Plants in or near your ponds should not be a difficult thing. Just a new way of thinking.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

Robin -- wonderful! You rock! You can do so much for the environment with your efforts in your neighborhood. Kudos! Hope it all goes through for you.

cameron

Tatyana said...

I read your post from A to Z. Our previous home was on the small lake in Missouri. It's been 6 years since we moved. Former neighbors told us that it's absolutely lost to the algae! Nearby construction, absence of any maintenance, etc... And those canadian geese... I remember one time I counted about 800 of them on the lake. I wish you and your neighbors luck!

Rosemary said...

So very informative!
We have a pond in our developement with lots of geese too.
I will be bringing this article to the boards attention in hopes of planting some of the suggested plants.

Rose said...

This is very interesting and informative, Robin. We live in a low-lying area, and all of the new subdivisions in town have retention ponds to prevent flooding. In many cases, geese are a problem, as you say. I don't think any of them have tried these water edge enhancements. Sounds like such a great idea--and a beautiful addition to the landscape as well! I hope this idea catches on.

Your rain garden post was also so informative--I've never heard of a rain garden before. I think I even have a spot in our yard where I could use this!

nancybond said...

Along with the benefits you've listed, it would really make the area attractive as well. What a simple, common sense solution. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

How frightening that our water supply is threatened almost everywhere. Our county recently voted against having a stream under greater protection. The reason? It would discourage housing along the river. I hope we wake up before it's too late.

Thanks for the information.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

It is good to hear that your community is taking steps to protect the natural elements.It upsets me to see people who have no regard for nature.I live in a farming community and am appaled at the amount of chemicals which are used.
Blessings,Ruth

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Robin, thank you for bringing this little thing to your blog. We can all do out little part... and it all adds up to a bigger part, and hopefully to a better whole.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Aren't you glad you went to that wetland seminar? Maybe you can plant up your run off areas. It is kind of scary with the frogs disappearing. Kind of like the canary in the mine. I bet most of your neighbors treat their lawns. That is a big no no in the natural world. Good luck.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Very interesting post. I've wondered about the water quality in the fenced off wetlands in our area. The water is just full of algae and I'm sure it has something to do with the fertilizer used around those areas. I hope your neighborhood gets to participate in the project.

beckie said...

Robin, so many have bought into the 'my grass has to be the greenest'. It's this very mind set that is destroying nature's habitats.

The plant buffer sounds like such an easy solution. I wonder why it hasn't been used more? I hope your area is selected and we can follow the results.

Gail said...

Robin,

I love that your city is moving forward with this project. How exciting for you! The plant buffer makes sense since it's what nature has always done...provide a buffer and filter the water. I loved the list of plants and so will the birds, bees, other critter and a certain photographer.

Gail

Kathleen said...

I agree with Gail ~ the buffer zone is what happens in nature. It's good to recreate it. I wish we could convince the general population about the harmful effects of fertilizers, chemicals, etc. I guess no one thinks about it going into their drinking water but it absolutely is unavoidable. Adding my wishes to everyone elses that your neighborhood receives some grant money. Congrats to you for being so proactive Robin!

Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com said...

I am going to keep my fingers crossed that you get to do this project. I bet you do. It makes sense. You are the perfect person to not only get this going locally but to spread the word to educate people far and wide. (You already are!) Am I wrong or isn't this the algae that is killing swimmers? I think so. Good luck,Robin and thank you for this!

Dan said...

Hello Robin
The Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District has grants available for pond edge enhancement projects. You should contact them about funding also.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Thanks, Dan. I have an appointment with Shaena Smith tomorrow. I'll find out from her what I need to do the get an application for funding. You guys are doing a wonderful service for the community. I look forward to helping any way that I can.

Eugene Joura said...
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