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How to Improve the Water Quality of Your Manmade Lake, Retention Pond or Large Pond

Treating and Improving Common Water Quality Issues; Including Water Clarity, Algae, Odor and More

Water quality is an important factor

that can affect the health of your lakes ecosystem, as well as the recreational value of the lake and the surrounding community. Poor water quality can also make the area unsightly reducing the value of the entire property. There are several steps that can be taken to improve the water quality of a lake. We’ll go over these steps to help bring your system back to a healthy, beautiful state.

Reduce the Amount of Pollution and Runoff Entering the Lake

Improves: water quality and clarity, helps reduce algae

Cost: $

One of the most effective ways to improve lake water quality is to reduce the amount of pollution that enters the lake. This can be done through proper waste disposal, such as using proper septic systems and properly disposing of household chemicals. It is also important to prevent runoff from agricultural lands and urban areas from entering the lake, as the runoff can contain fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants. This can be done through the use of best management practices, such as using buffer zones to filter out contaminants before they reach the lake. High amounts of animal and bird waste can also cause issues with the water quality. Installing a fence around the lake or using a bird deterrent may help reduce their effects on your system. As an example, here in Canada, geese can wreak havoc on smaller lakes, ponds and retention ponds. They produce significant waste when in large groups, which can lead to extensive water issues.

Steps to take:

  • Limit fertilizers and pesticides around the lake

  • Limit runoff around the lake

  • Reduce pollution

  • Limit the animals and birds that have access to the lake

Reduce the Suns Effect On The Water

Improves: water quality, helps reduce algae

Cost: $ to $$$$

The sun plays a large role on water quality. There are two things that cause algae. One is excess nutrients, the second is the sun. By planting vegetation to help shade the water, you can help reduce the suns effects on the water. Keep in mind, there is a delicate balance with shade plants, when the leaves fall off in winter they can add nutrients to the water from the decaying leaves.

Another common practice is to dye the pond, the most common lake dye is a blue dye. This helps reflect the sun’s rays, in turn reducing the suns water penetration and reducing its effects on the water.

Steps to take:

  • Plant large sun covering trees around the pond - $$$$

  • Use pond/lake dye to reflect sunlight - $

Increase Aeration and Water Movement

Improves: water quality, water clarity, removes excess nutrients, helps reduce algae

Cost: $$$

Water Aeration - Oxygen improves the healthy bacteria system in the water, in turn leading to a healthier system and clearer water. Bacteria eat nutrients in the water which will reduce the effects of the excess nutrients and prevent the bad bacteria from taking over. Bacteria are “probiotics” for the lake.

Solution: Add an aerator. A water aerator will add oxygen to the water and will slightly agitate the surface. They come in a variety of types and different output volumes. Some will simply bubble while others will create a large bubbling effect that comes out of the water.

Water Movement – Water movement helps keep the bacteria healthy. It also prevents or eliminates stagnant water which can cause major water quality issues. Water movement also discourages water breeding insects such as mosquitoes; it can also eliminate odor problems that are associated with stagnant water.

Solution: Add a lake fountain or waterfall. Both will agitate the surface of the water, create water movement and aerate the water all at once. They come in a wide variety of options.

Lake fountain for water movement and water quality
Lake Fountains Come in a Wide Variety of Shapes and Sizes

Steps to take:

  • Add a waterfall or stream to your lake

  • Add an aerator

  • Add a fountain

Start a Natural Treatment Dosing Regimen

Improves: water quality, clarity, helps remove excess nutrients, helps reduce algae

Cost: $

A natural treatment dosing regimen is a great place to start when trying to improve water quality in a lake or large pond. Pairing a treatment regimen with a lake fountain and aerator can significantly reduce or even eliminate most water quality issues.

Potential treatments:

Beneficial bacteria – Lake bacteria helps restore the ecosystem in lakes and large ponds; keeping water clean, clear and healthy while significantly reducing maintenance.

Flocculent – A lake flocculent clears clouding water caused by suspended particles in lakes and large ponds.

Sludge Remover – A lake sludge remover eliminates organic sludge and muck from lakes and large ponds; enhancing water clarity and quality while removing odors.

Phosphate Binder – A lake phosphate binder binds large amounts of phosphate which otherwise cause issues with water quality and clarity in lakes and large ponds.

Steps to take:

  • Start a monthly treatment plan utilizing the treatments that will help with your specific needs

"Pairing a treatment regimen with a lake fountain and aerator can significantly reduce or even eliminate most water quality issues."

Increasing the Amount of Vegetation In and Around the Lake

Improves: water quality and clarity, helps remove excess nutrients, helps reduce algae

Cost: $$$$$

Planting vegetation around the lake can help to absorb excess nutrients and sediment as well as provide shade on the water, therefore improving water quality. Aquatic plants are a great way to add a natural look to your lake while improving water quality. The aquatic plants help remove excess nutrients from the water, in turn improving the quality of the water. By planting cover plants such as lilies, you can also reduce the effects of the sun.

Steps to take:

  • Add plants around your lake

  • Add aquatic plants

Aquatic plants to improve water quality
Add Aquatic Plants to Reduce Nutrients in Water and Help Cover the Water From Sunlight

Introducing Algae-Eating Organisms

Improves: water quality, can help reduce algae

Cost: $$

Excess algae growth in a lake can cause a number of problems, including reduced oxygen levels and a decline in the population of other aquatic species. Introducing species such as certain types of fish and snails can help to reduce the amount of algae in the lake, therefore improving water quality.

Steps to take:

  • Add clean up fish and snails

Increase Filtration

Improves: water quality and clarity, helps bacteria colonies and helps reduce algae

Cost: $$$$$

Adding filtration to your lake is one of the most effective ways to improve water quality. The downside to a filtration system is that they are a costly feature to add onto a lake or large pond. The wetland filter incorporates water movement and plants to create an ecosystem that works together to naturally clean the water, therefore creating a healthy environment.

Steps to take:

  • Add a bog filter / wetland filter

Using Physical or Chemical Methods to Remove Contaminants

Improves: water quality and clarity, caution should be taken

Cost: $$

In some cases, physical methods of water treatment, such as filtration and sedimentation, may be necessary to remove contaminants from the water. Chemical treatments, such as adding chemicals to neutralize pollutants, can also be effective, although they should be used with caution to avoid negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Copper Sulphate is a common treatment used to kill string algae. This method is extremely effective in killing string algae. This treatment should only be used as a last result as it can kill everything in the lake if not used correctly. It is also simply a quick fix and shouldn’t be used regularly as it will harm the lakes ecosystem over time. Copper Sulphate does not treat the cause.

* Note: There may be local laws or regulations in your area that prohibit the use of such treatments or must be used by certified professionals only. Be sure to check your local laws and regulations before using this method of treatment.

Steps to take:

  • Copper Sulphate

  • Chemical treatments

  • Physical filtration

Limit the Beach Area

Improves: water quality, water clarity

Cost: $$

Sand beaches can actually harm the ecosystem as it can smother the life at the bottom of the pond. Sand also contains phosphorus and can feed algae growth. If you already have a beach with sand, not to worry, just avoid adding more sand unless necessary and keep the sand area to a smaller size. If you still want to add a beach, make sure you check with local regulations as it is illegal in some areas and lakes. Remember to keep the beach area to a small portion of the lake area and only add sand when absolutely necessary.

Steps to take:

  • Limit the beach area

  • Avoid adding more sand

Change the Lakes Bottom Composition

Improves: reduces water loss

Cost: $$$$

If your lake has a mud bottom, the water may drop over time. You may be able to help reduce water loss by using something like bentonite to seal the bottom of the pond. Check directions before the application to ensure your ponds will benefit from this addition. Some products only work on large bodies of water.

Steps to take:

  • Add bentonite to the lake bottom

What Next?

Implementing a Lake Management Plan

Developing and implementing a comprehensive management plan can help to ensure that all of the above steps are taken in a coordinated and effective manner. A lake management plan should include goals for improving water quality, as well as specific actions that will be taken to achieve those goals. It should also include monitoring and evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the plan.

Steps to take:

  • Create a lake management plan utilizing different methods and best practices

  • Take action using the management plan

In addition to the above steps, it is also important to educate yourself and your family about the importance of lake water quality and how you can help to improve it. This can be done through outreach and educational programs, as well as through the development of ordinances and regulations that help to protect the lake. Before implementing any lake management plan, be sure to check into local laws and regulations. Failure to do so can result in major costs, fines and even imprisonment.

Overall, improving lake water quality can be a complex process that requires the efforts of the community, local government, and other stakeholders. By taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach, it is possible to significantly improve the water quality of a lake, benefiting the ecosystem and the surrounding community.


In the Winnipeg Area and Need Help With Your Manmade Lake, Retention Pond or Pond? We Can Help!

We offer services including dosing, treatments, wetland filter installations, management plans and more! Contact Us For More Information.

Need Treatments and Water Feature Products?

Visit Our Pond Supply Store; Online or In Store! We Ship Canada Wide.


Poll: What Water Issues Are You Experiencing?

  • String Algae

  • Green "Pea Soup" Suspended Algae

  • Cloudy or Brown Water

  • Odor in the Water

You can vote for more than one answer.


Q: What methods have or haven't worked for you when trying to improve water quality?

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