Let’s say you have this great water feature you are quite fond of, it adds pleasing aesthetics to your surrounds and is a peaceful contribution to your environment. However, your water feature – like most items in a landscape – causes you problems from time to time. When these problems arise, you consult a lake maintenance company to fix the problem. You then continue to leave the water to itself until a problem arises once more. Sound familiar? Although this type of reactive maintenance will solve apparent problems, it will not prevent the time consuming and potentially expensive ones from erupting; the kind of problems which brew beneath the surface, and are usually not visible to anyone besides trained professionals.
Lakes, streams, and ponds are complex ecosystems, and when reproduced by man are usually not self-sufficient. For the best results, they require proactive maintenance: a preventative approach to maintenance that works in conjunction with the existing ecosystem in order to prevent overbearing and costly situations from developing.
Oftentimes, lake maintenance companies with a reactive approach hire personnel who are only trained with a defensive understanding of lake maintenance; they have no training in preventing compounding problems and providing long-term lake plans and solutions. A company with a proactive approach trains its personnel not only to solve problems but also to be forward-thinking and take action to prevent them. Proactive maintenance personnel understand the root of problems and are able to eliminate costly problems that build on themselves over time.
Similar to how gardeners or landscapers monitor plants in our public areas (shopping plazas, community centers, recreational parks, etc), proactive lake maintenance professionals monitor the growth of aquatic plants and overall quality in water features. Without this care of aquatic and emerging plant life, like terrestrial plants, they will continue growing until they are out of control creating algae blooms, fish death, timely and expensive reactive restoration, and in extreme situations, lake death.
To avoid expensive reactive restoration, a proactive professional treats problems even when they are not visible on the surface level. A situation where this would be the case is when sludge occurring at the base of a water feature creates massive plant overgrowth. A proactive professional will identify this problem, and then makes moves to treat the sludge first and prevent more expensive and time-consuming restoration in response to aquatic plant overgrowth. Furthermore, proactive maintenance professionals remain aware of seasonal changes that may affect the body of water. For example, a proactive lake maintenance professional monitors aquatic plants while they are dormant during the winter months in order to prevent unsightly overgrowth situations during the summer.
In addition to implementing preventative measures to maintain the actual body of water, proactive maintenance companies train their employees to understand the workings of all equipment in the underground pump vault (electrical panels, pumps, bloomers, fans and lighting systems) which is responsible for keeping water from becoming stagnated by increasing circulation and aeration. A proactive professional would also take preventative measures to ensure all wiring and equipment in the pump vault is functioning safely and efficiently. This prevents problems such as motors in the pump vault running hot. Preventative measures allow the customer to be informed of the situation and are given options for repair before irreversible pump damage occurs. This proactive action might cost a mere $400 while replacing an entire pump can cost upward of $7,000!
The more you know about your lake maintenance company the more you will know about your lake – a proactive company will keep you informed about potential issues and provide you with preventative, money-and-time-saving solutions. Proactive lake maintenance professionals take preventative measures to ensure that expensive, time-consuming and stress-causing problems do not become overbearing. Ask questions to make sure the company hired is not simply reactive. Any maintenance company can fix problems, but what you really need is a company that can prevent them.
Patrick Simmsgeiger is President of Diversified Waterscapes, Inc in Laguna Niguel, CA and is California’s only certified lake manager.