Hi. My name is Kathy. I am the owner and steward of the Broadwell HIll Forest Farm and Off-Grid Learning Center.
I built a cabin in the deep forest on 65 acres in SE Ohio. I have lived off-grid here for 23 years. I am a RN and an active forest and pond manager. I am an avid learner with a background in field biology, love chemistry, microbiology and science in general. I love assessing situations, solving puzzles, planning and playing with testing equipment and the microscope.
I practice "Holistic Management Decision-Making" (TM) processes. It helps me look at things from a variety of perspectives as I gather information for the testing framework. It reinforces the reality that my decisions might be wrong so feedback loops and early monitoring criteria help me keep moving toward my goals.
So thank you all for all the info shared here, and in other places on-line. I do not know of any professional pond managers in my region that provide services so my efforts are DIY whether I prefer it or not.
I created a small excavated/embankment pond in 2001 with the help of what many refer to as the Father of SE Ohio farm ponds. He was 75 yrs of age at the time and it was an honor working with him.
The pond is ~ 0.2 surface acres, 1/5 th acre, 0.75 acre feet. The pond forms a teardrop, it was originally about 14 ft but is now about 12 ft deep with a bowl shape. We exposed red, purple and white clay during the excavation, along with a number of seeps from the perched water table. It is also fed with surface waters from a very small forested watershed, an oak/hickory forest on a ridge top. There are not any ducks or livestock in the watershed.
The pond's edge is well-planted with native plants that I manage to reduce sedimentation while providing wildlife and pollinator habitat. I have treated emergent invasive plants with water rated herbicide. The dam has never leaked, the water level stays relatively stable and I have not yet had any problems with algae or other growth.
The pond is positioned directly in front of my passive solar house and solar modules. The sunlight reflects off the pond into the house in the winter and it keeps my solar window open in the deep forest without having to mow. The pond brings me great joy as I gaze out at the ever changing habitat every day.
My son and his friends built a dock and I love running and jumping into the pond during the summer. It is stocked with LMB, BG, and there may still be one Channel Catfish in it. We love to host campfire cookouts and the neighbors stop by with their kids to fish.
I also created 5 small shallow water habitats and have a perennial stream running through the property. The shallow water habitats were created as part of the NRCS Conservation Stewardship program.
So my pond management goals include: on-going learning processes, healthy fish habitat, community recreation, aesthetics, and educational outreach.
I have been working on a 'muddy' pond issue for a few years.
I consulted with the State DNR freshwater biologist, the SWCD and a university water department. Everyone assumed it was muddy because of runoff, clay getting stirred up by critters, or ripples from the aeration.
However, numerous "jar tests" revealed little settling or clearing while left undisturbed in the darkness. The Secchi Disk readings have run between 5 and 15 inches. I also track pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Nitrates, Phosphate, Ammonia, Electrical Conductivity, TDS and Temperature.
The chemistry: pH runs around 7, Alkalinity 60, Hardness 60, EC 130, TDS 50. The Nitrate, Phosphate and Ammonia titration tests are always negative.
I got a linear diaphragm aeration pump when I enlarged my solar electric system. It has a diffuser membrane set up off the bottom by about 7-8 ft to keep back pressure in a range that should extend the pump life. I am aware that it may not be doing much but it seems better than nothing and the pond temperatures seem to indicate that it keeps the pond de-stratified.
Next steps: my buddies with bowfishing gear removed a whale of a grass carp, 4 ft long, 53 lb. The water did not clear so then we removed 3 very large Channel Catfish. It still didn't clear. We distributed 800 lbs of Agricultural Lime in the Fall of 2022; another 800 lbs in the Spring of 2023.
I received excellent input from Rainman and others, including all the articles I could find on this site and others about clearing muddy water.
We went shopping for aluminum sulfate and hydrated lime. All I could get in our region was Liquid Aluminum Sulfate from a nearby fishery and Dolomitic Hydrated lime (calcium magnesium hydroxide) from a local farm store.
We diluted 12 gallons of the liquid Aluminum Sulfate and sprayed it on the pond surface, increased amount in the deep areas. We did the application in sections, kept track of pH and applied swaths of the hydrated lime to keep the pH up around 7. We did not kill any fish or other life but the pond did not clear either.
We were told it might need another 12 gallons so we repeated the process a few days later. The clarity improved for a few days, up to 15" Secchi, but it has decreased again and now has what appears to me to be a brown phytoplankton bloom.
I can see the fish again and some of them are coming up to feed and appear healthy. I also have three non-venomous water snakes entertaining me.
The pond seems healthy but it is brown to olive brown with poor clarity and what I think is a brown phytoplankton bloom.
I am going to try to source dry aluminum sulfate again and am considering another full dose application (~ 200 lb/acre foot) per Rainman's recommendations. He also recommended that I reach out to Bill Cody regarding the possibly brown phytoplankton bloom.
So, that's my story. I probably forgot important info so please do not hesitate to ask questions and please feel free to share input.
I have a "Broadwell Hill Pond" public album on facebook that you are welcome to check out: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10160151870217210&type=3
I would be happy to post photos here when I figure out how to do it and will come back to complete a signature, etc.
I look forward to reading all the interesting posts on this site. Thank you very much!
PS. Many Thanks to all the Veterans; may you receive all of the services you need to be healthy and happy. Happy Memorial Day!