Oklahoma Water Resources Center

Neighborhood and urban ponds require good management


Attractive ponds supporting fish, plants and other aquatic life can be a major enhancement to the quality of life in neighborhoods and other urbanized settings.

However, weeds and other problems with such ponds are common. Solutions usually require cooperation between neighbors, said Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist.

“Pond management involves managing people,” he said. “Working to educate yourself and others and to change attitudes is essential if your neighborhood pond is to be improved and maintained.”

Many issues occur when people do not consider the runoff from the watershed, which often carries excess phosphorous and other nutrients from fertilized yards and lawns. To get started on urban pond management, first identify the total area that drains into the pond.

“Develop a watershed map to help others become aware of the area impacting the pond, and make a list of all apparent problems and concerns with the pond,” Beem said. “Identify landowners, residents, yard care companies and others within the watershed that are responsible for fertilizer and pesticide use.”

Soil tests in the watershed will indicate if nutrient levels are a problem.

“Rainfall runoff in the watershed will carry any excess or improperly applied fertilizers to ponds and creeks, potentially resulting in excessive growth of algae,” Beem said. “The best answer to this problem is not to use herbicides to control aquatic plants but rather to reduce excess fertilizer application in the watershed.”

It is helpful to identify the aquatic plants and fish species in the pond with the assistance of your local Extension office. Discussions with city stormwater managers, homeowner association officers or others who may have a role in improving the quality of the runoff reaching the pond are beneficial.

“Learn who is responsible for pond upkeep and maintenance,” Beem said. “Take the initiative and accept responsibility if there is a need to do so.”

If improvements are needed, enlist other stakeholders in the effort of developing a tentative plan.

There also is some yearly maintenance that will enhance the success rate of an improvement plan. Dams should be mowed twice a year, if possible, and shorelines, spillways and dams should be inspected for signs of erosion and slumping.

Monitor changes in the area covered by aquatic plants, and identify any new plants and determine if they are invasive.

“Our eyes are naturally drawn to a pond. The experience can either be a pleasing one, or an upsetting one if we see a mismanaged eyesore,” Beem said. “Successfully managing neighborhood and urban ponds takes effort and cooperation among everyone in the watershed. Change and involvement are possible when people have a common vision.”


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
145 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

View the original article here.

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