In the Lowcountry, they say, if you dig a hole and leave it alone for a while, soon enough it will fill up with water, and you will have a pond.
In short order, ponds fill up with life of all kinds. Life finds a way. We have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ponds or lagoons in the Lowcountry, many manmade as part of golf course retention ponds.
But how healthy are these ponds? Can they sustain biodiverse flora and fauna? Not without our help. The health of our ponds can be affected by many factors, mainly if not mostly, as a result of development. Runoff from our roads, lawns and golf courses is a chief culprit.
We use a good deal of chemicals to produce the kind of lawns, golf greens and grassy areas that suit the desires of what many of us view as aesthetically pleasing. We use large amounts of pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers.
Lawns and greens are high maintenance. Chemicals to maintain them have to go somewhere, so they go into our ponds.
An abundance of fertilizers leads to algae growth, which in turn necessitates using other chemicals, such as copper sulfate, to kill the alga.
Sustaining a balance becomes an extensive and losing proposition. What can we do?
Most of us are not going to give up our lawn or golf course maintenance, so we need strive to for moderation. We need to do our best to keep fertilizers down to a minimum, which will reduce the need to add copper sulfate to reduce algae.
In addition, we need to monitor the impact on our ponds and take water samples.
When we lived in New England, my wife and I belonged to a group of volunteers who would regularly take water samples to test for salinity, algae and other contaminants, in addition to checking for clarity and depth. We would then send our samples to county agencies for analysis.
The results from these samples, taken over time, told us a good deal about the health of our waters. Perhaps a similar system of water monitoring and analysis can be replicated. It is not that difficult to collect samples.
But once results are obtained, it is important to take appropriate action to ameliorate problems in the health of our ponds. Volunteers can do water monitoring on a regular basis.
We can’t just leave it up to the county or our communities, especially those with golf courses. Healthy ponds are all our responsibility.
John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek.