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If you’ve been watching the news in the last month at all you’ve likely heard about the enormous oil disaster in the gulf of Mexico.
The loss of life (both human and wild) is a very sad tale. I won’t go into too many details here, nor will I share my personal opinion on the matter…although you can read about those thoughts in a blog post here.
What I do think is interesting, and pertinent to pond owners, is some of the statements made in an article by the New York Times. You can read the full text here, but let me summarize a few key points.
No matter how large the gulf may be, it is still governed by environmental forces (just like your pond), or in other words, Mother Nature. And as much as we would like to think man will be able to clean up this toxic mess, the fact is, nature will bear the brunt of this work and in some ways she’s already begun.
In the article Dr. Samantha Joye is quoted as saying that one of the greatest concerns, apart from the shear amount of oil in the water is the fact that scientists are finding depleting dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Oxygen has dropped as much as 30% near some oil plumes, and if it drops much lower it may create dead zones near oil infested waters.
The declining oxygen levels are thought to be brought about from oil eating bacteria (which are aerobic) that are consuming oxygen at a “feverish clip” as they work to break down the undersea plumes.
Normally, adequate oxygen is (at least on the whole) not a problem in the ocean, as long as natural processes are allowed to work, without the unusual influence of millions of gallons of oil, or untreated waste water (such as in China), where algae threatened water sports during the Bejing Olympics.
Oceans, as with any water body, will transfer dissolved oxygen at the water’s surface. Wave action over vast amounts of water make this possible, but at deeper depths, oxygen can drop dramaticlly.
For pond owners of all sizes, this can be a good lesson in understanding several important points. Dissolved oxygen is critical to the health of any ecosystem, including your pond, and when certain influences come along, a great demand may be put on your pond that may not have been expected.
You may not have to deal with an oil slick to suffer. The high temperatures of summer make it harder for water to hold oxygen, and plants provide a give and take system where they add oxygen during times of photosythesis, and they take up oxygen at night when sunlight isn’t present.
In most ponds, oxygen can be diminished or drop after only a few feet of depth. So in the lower parts of a pond that’s say, 15 to 20 feet deep, there could be very low levels at the bottom of the pond, and this is not advantagious for the natural forces that can help keep a pond clean and balanced.
When aerobic bacteria are employed to help clean up or balance a water system, they need, and will use oxygen to get the work done. In most cases this important work won’t deplete a ponds oxygen stores. What’s more likely is the bacteria will not work as well as it could have, in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, if oxygen levels are not optimized.
Fortunately, unlike the ocean, you do have options to help the low oxygen issue and number one on the list is installing an aeration kit in your pond. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself, and your pond, to begin an investigation, and education into this vital resource. You will not regret it!
I’m adding a video I shot recently to the aeration page on our website but I also wanted to include it here because it outlines what a typical, high quality aeration kit is made up of in terms of components and parts. I also discuss particular indications of low oxygen levels and when they may be prone to showing up in your pond.
[youtube width=”425″ height=”355″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV-A041F4IQ&feature=youtube_gdata[/youtube]
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