How to Improve Water Quality: Misconceptions, Success Indicators & Alternative Solutions
Often water testing companies neglect to explain in detail the results of water improvement tests, leaving lakeshore and pond owners wondering what they mean and unsure about how to improve water quality. Your understanding of the test results is important to choose the best method of water quality improvement to invest your money in.
Here are some questions you should ask about how to improve water quality
Were the samples taken on the surface, mid-depth, bottom or composite (meaning surface to bottom)?
Surface samples are usually almost of little or no value, here’s why:
The most important indicating part to improve water quality in lakes or ponds is at the very bottom. But bottom readings can be very misleading. Most “bottom” samples are taken one meter above the bottom. From this distance down to the bottom, water quality usually degrades exponentially (pollutants increase greatly). Tests should be made six inches above the bottom carefully so that the bottom muck is not stirred up when the tests are taken. If bottom oxygen is low and toxic gases (usually not even measured) are high, it indicates a whole series of serious problems that are not revealed in Trophic State Indices:
a) If bottom oxygen is low and toxic gases are high, fish cannot go down to the bottom and feed. If they are sport fish, it is usually important that they can go down to the bottom where the water is much cooler. It is highly recommended to improve water quality because Trout and other fish cannot survive in warm surface water.
Some environmentalists will tell you that you cannot destratify (mix) a lake because it will make the bottom water warm and kill the fish. The truth most likely is that the surface water is warm so the fish cannot live there. If bottom water is high in toxic gas and low in oxygen, fish cannot go down there either. Even more truthful is that carbon dioxide and ammonia, when present, go into the fish’s blood stream. Warm water releases these gases in the blood, making bubbles that kill the fish. If the water is treated with a CLEAN-FLO Inversion system to improve water quality by increasing oxygen and getting rid from the water of toxic gases, fish can stand much warmer water and can go down to the bottom to feed. The fish are also much more vigorous because of the high oxygen level, and therefore are hungrier and eat more.
b) If bottom oxygen is low and toxic gases are high, beneficial bacteria and insects cannot live on the bottom and feed on organic sediment. If the bottom is oxygenated, bacteria and insects can feed on organic sediment. Muck will be biodegraded by these organisms and in turn will become food for fish. In fact, bottom-feeding insects are the best food for most fish.
c) If the bottom is oxygenated, phosphorus and nitrogen are bound to the sediment. This reduces aquatic plant growth. If there is a lack of oxygen at the bottom, there is a massive release of phosphorus and nitrogen, usually in the range of three times as much as the phosphorus and nitrogen that comes in through the watershed. So, improving bottom water quality is usually much more important than improving water quality of incoming streams or other water sources, although both are important.
Does Trophic State Index improve water quality?
Trophic State Index is one of the most misunderstood parameters in the world of water quality testing tools. First, and most important, these are all surface water readings. Please refer back to Question 1. Second, all TSI values are mostly a measure of surface algae. There are three categories of TSI.
1.) One category is a measure of water transparency. This is a measure of planktonic (dispersed) algae in the water, along with whatever other particles may be floating at the surface. It totally ignores huge masses of floating algae such as filamentous algae. It totally ignores the mass of weeds in the lake. If a lake is inundated with aquatic weed growth, these weeds take up the phosphorus and nitrogen. They compete with the algae so the algae cannot grow. So you can have a very clear lake with weeds so dense you cannot fish, boat or swim in the water, but the Trophic State Index will tell you that the water quality has improved.
2.) A second category of TSI is a measure of chlorophyll-a. This too, is a measure of algae only, and does not tell you if there is organic sediment on the bottom, fish kills or danger of fish kills or if the lake is full of aquatic macrophytes (weeds).
3.) The third category of TSI is a measure of total phosphorus at the surface. Total phosphorus readings are taken by boiling the algae and other organic particles so the phosphorus to be tested is released. Again, if the water is very clear and free of algae, it may be because massive weed growth has taken up most of the phosphorus. You will then have a low TSI indication of improved water quality when, in fact, the lake may be highly polluted with phosphorus.
How to Measure Water Quality?
What are better indicators of water quality than TSI? As we explained above, Trophic State Index is a measure of three water quality parameters: Secchi disk transparency, Chlorophyll a and total phosphorus. These are all measures of the same thing: surface algae.
For 47 years, CLEAN-FLO has advocated that other parameters should be looked at for a more realistic evaluation of the trophic condition of a lake. These would include fecal and coliform bacteria levels; fish kills, fish number and weight; bottom dissolved oxygen; surface and bottom pH, phosphorus and nitrogen; aquatic plant densities; and depth and organic content of bottom sediment.
If a lake is devoid of oxygen on the bottom throughout most of the year, this is the lake’s most serious problem. A lake devoid of oxygen at any time during the year releases massive amounts of fertilizer (phosphorus and nitrogen) into the water.
Aquatic plants take up phosphorus and nitrogen, resulting in less algae and a good Trophic State Index. Advocating more massive weed growth is not a solution to the problems that plague most lake residents and others wishing to enjoy their lake. People cannot boat, fish or swim in dense weed growth. They cannot swim if disease bacteria levels are high, weeds are dense, or the bottom is mucky. If fish are stunted or dead from high toxic gas levels or lack of oxygen, fishing is poor.
The CLEAN-FLO process of lake, pond, river and reservoir restoration solves all these problems and provides a solution to improve water quality.
Clean-Flo Natural Water Quality Improvement Solutions
At CLEAN-FLO, we explain things. When you buy our process, you know why you are buying it, how our process works, what our process will do, how the CLEAN-FLO customized approach will improve your water quality, and the results you can expect. Isn’t that what you should expect from any water treatment company?