Community water features are intended to add elegance and ambiance. However, your lake, stream, or pond can quickly become your slimiest headache. Any abnormalities in the sight or smell, any malfunctions with the pumps or valves, or any shifts in the habitat can cause your body of water to become an ongoing problem. Whether natural or man-made, every body of water requires attention and maintenance to preserve its beauty and functionality. All bodies of water experience problems; some are seen, some are hidden. But all are the eventual problem of the Property Manager.
Man-made bodies of water like the ones that exist in apartment communities, condominiums and golf courses are built, filled and left to the association or property management company to maintain. The water features are designed to compliment the property, serving as an aesthetic element. The initial design of a water feature is crucial to continued function. More often than not, an aquatic maintenance company is not consulted prior to the design and build. Still, lake maintenance professionals accept this and move forward effectively, knowing how poor designs adversely affect longevity.
The property management company responsible for the onsite water feature has many pressing responsibilities. When addressing a body of water, building a relationship with a lake maintenance company will relieve your burden, making your task less strenuous. The person responsible for the water feature may not know much about aquatic maintenance or the potential problems. What often results is a vendor talks themselves into the property, then under-performs. Their proposal was inexpensive but also ineffective. Soon the water will react to improper treatment, and then everyone notices.
Strange, slimy globs of green matter cover the surface, huge mats of a bizarre grass float up from the bottom, the water turns a pea-soup green, the pumps cease functioning, and a large number of fish die. When the waterfall stops running and the one remaining pump is making strange noises, the homeowners start to yell loudly. Lake maintenance professionals are trained to help solve, and more importantly, to prevent problems. A proactive relationship with an aquatic expert will prevent you from ever reaching that slimy state.
Working in conjunction with the person responsible for the management of a water feature and the board of directors, the lake maintenance professional not only sustains the water quality, but also brings items that need repair to their attention. The management company submits a recommendation for repair to the board, which is then approved, denied or tabled. Many times, despite hiring a reputable lake maintenance company, the board will deny repair or replacement recommendations because the budget does not account for new line items, especially items stemming from neglect.
With man-made water features, problems could be brewing for months. Too often, lake maintenance companies are called in to ‘fix’ a problem, and to do so immediately. Unfortunately, the true restoration or repair of a water feature involves time and patience. It took time to deteriorate to the emergency state, and it will take time for it to be repaired, and then for the water to heal. In order to avoid this scenario, the proactive solution is to budget and reserve resources, coupled with regularly scheduled maintenance. Also monitor the aeration, the filtration, the pumps, the aquatic plants, the water, and pests.
Problem prevention starts with budgeting. Your lake maintenance professional can assist with budgeting and planning. Lake maintenance companies are hired for their experience and knowledge, they are not just a ‘fix-it’ team. Of course, they are knowledgeable about restoration, but they are also experts at preventing water issues. The aquatic expert can be involved at the planning stages, to advise on issues of prevention, regular maintenance schedules, and equipment installation. This will help prevent more expensive problems from occurring over the life of the property.
Lake maintenance professionals can provide solutions for recovery and prevention. They have field service technicians who do the physical work. These technicians know the steps to take in the treatment and restoration of water, and what to do in the event of equipment malfunction. Office personnel are trained to assist in times of trouble, offer solutions, and keep the lines of communication open.
The lake, pond, or stream maintenance provider who implements your maintenance program should be an expert, and preferably a Certified Lake Manager. The company should be able to provide proof of experience through verifiable, long-term references, as well as proof of licenses, permits, general liability, workman’s compensation, and vehicle/boat insurance. If you want to keep your body of water healthy and balanced, use a professional of good repute.
Once you find an aquatic company with the proper qualifications and reputation, you are on your way to enjoying a headache-free approach to maintaining your body of water.
Patrick Simmsgeiger is President of Diversified Waterscapes, Inc. Since 1973, Diversified Waterscapes, Inc. has offered state-of-the-art products for aquatic management to professional applicators.