This summer the large amount of plant growth in the lake was hard to control. During this time, the Lake Committee, association staff and Aquatic Control were in constant communication trying to create the best combination of swimming, boating and fish life on the lake. Below is asummary of topics discussed or action taken.
Tipton Lakes has an annual contract with Aquatic Control to treat the lake, once a month, for six months starting in April and ending in September. The lake was treated on April 17, May 15, June 19, July 3, July 17, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 21 and Sept. 18 still remaining. These are the key points from the treatments.
• Two days prior to the June 19 treatment we received 3.4 inches of rain, resulting in a high-water level.
• Prior to this treatment the average high for the month of June had been 75 degrees.
• Starting on June 27 temperatures began to increase to an average of 89 degrees from June 27 and throughout July.
• By July 1 the plant growth in the lake began to explode. Aquatic Control was contacted, and an extra treatment was done on July 3.
• Aquatic Control, after the June 19 and the July 3 treatment, indicated that it could not put any more chemicals in the lake for fear of compromising fish life.
• Three additional treatments were added outside of the contract, on July 17, July 31 and Aug. 7.
• Aquatic Control can only apply a chemical treatment every two weeks, that is per chemical guidelines.
• None of the products Aquatic Control uses in the lake have a swimming restriction. Residents can use the water for swimming immediately following treatment. The association office places the red buoys in the water to give homeowners notice that the lake has been treated. This gives the members the choice to swim or not.
Escalated Plant Growth
There were several factors that escalated the plant growth in the lake. This summer the large amount of plant growth in the lake was hard to control. During this time, the Lake Committee, association staff and Aquatic Control were in constant communication trying to create the best combination of swimming, boating and fish life on the lake. Below is a summary of topics discussed or action taken.
Condition of the Lake this Summer
• The high temperatures that continued for several days.
• The extreme rain in June.
• Fertilizer that homeowners put on their yards runs into the lake with the heavy rains.
• The lake receives very little aeration. The little boat activity on the lake does not provide enough circulation of the water.
West Canal Difficulties
The west canal is extremely problematic due to the following:
• The canal is shallow at only 4 to 6 feet.
• This depth allows for the sunlight to reach the plant material.
• This depth allows for plant material to reach the surface.
• The west canal receives full sunlight compared to the east canal that has more mature trees along the shoreline.
• The canal runs west to east, which allows west winds to push the plant material into the canal.
• The grade of the homeowner yards is steep, allowing for more fertilizer runoff from yards.
Type of Plant Material
Primarily, the problematic plant material in our lake is limited to one or two types.
• Chara is the main weed that is prevalent throughout the lake. Chara is an advanced type of algae.
• This summer another plant-like algae appeared, nitella. This is a submersed macro algae.
• Oscillatoria, a third algae that floats on the surface.
• The reason the algae (oscillatoria) floats after treatment is because it tends to reside at the bottom. As treated nitella dies, the oscillatoria traps gas bubbles until it becomes buoyant and floats to the surface in a mass of decaying organic matter.
It was recommended by several members that we add grass carp to eliminate our plant problem. Aquatic Control was consulted and provided the following information.
• The main summertime vegetation problem in the lake is nitella and chara. Grass carp do not preferentially
feed on these two macro algae, especially nitella.
• If the carp do feed on these macro algae, young of the year sport fish (bass and bluegill) will have no cover and will reproduce poorly.
• If growing healthy bass is an important goal, cover must be added or kept.
• The carp will grow very quickly for the first few years, but eventually hit a stage where their feeding rate slows, and they will not keep up with the regrowth.
• They are naturally a riverine fish and will gravitate toward areas where water is flowing, (spillways and inlets).
• Removal of the vegetation by fish consumption will make the lakes more susceptible to planktonic, cyanobacteria blooms, which can be toxic to aquatic and terrestrial life. Chemical treatments, while they tend to give the chara/nitella more of a “hair cut,” leave the plants to regrow, which helps keep nutrients under control. The consequences of a lake void of vegetation are much worse than the consequences of managing chara/nitella with algaecide.
• Not only do grass carp remove vegetation that absorbs nutrients from the water and sediment, as they consume, they produce waste, which adds more nutrients to the water.
• If carp are successful in controlling chara/nitella, they will begin to compete with the bluegill and bass for food by consuming benthic invertebrates, which will further impact the fishery in a negative manner.
• Once they are stocked, they are nearly impossible to remove.
Nutrients have a significant influence on the types of algae that grow in our lake. Aquatic Control was consulted and provided the following information.
• It is better for the nutrients to be locked away in the sediment than in the water column.
• Long-term solutions would be to dredge the lakes (remove the top 6 inches of sediment), then install aeration throughout the lake and apply Phoslock to cap the sediment from releasing phosphorus into the water.
• This long-term option will come with a price tag well in excess of $1 million for the whole system.
• Nutrients from the water could be removed using an aluminum sulfate or poly aluminum chloride application. This is the most cost-effective way to reduce nutrients. Water tests would need to be done to determine the exact dose needed to reduce nutrients while remaining safe for the fish.
• There are peroxide options that can used early in the year to attempt to oxidize algae at the sediment/water interface in the routinely bad areas. This is an expensive option, but it is also a green option.
• As part of a long-term solution, Aquatic Control advises that nutrient mitigation will only be as effective as the best management practices used outside the lake. This means it would be advisable (although unpopular) to ban fertilizer use on lawns from April to September (lawns in the Midwest should only be fertilized once per year anyway, and it is best for the lawn for these applications to occur in October or March so the fertilizer has the most time to get in the soil rather than run off in the wet season).
• It has also been recommended that homeowners limit water times to 10 minutes maximum per day. This would limit the amount of water runoff.
Of course, with long-term options, like dredging, aeration and additional chemical applications, the lakes are still lakes and will grow something. Nature finds a way. Again, we just have to find the balance between plant life and recreation.
Our lakes are and will continue to be a top priority. It is our No. 1 asset within Tipton Lakes. The steps that were taken this summer were our best course of action in returning the lake to a healthy condition. Unfortunately, it takes time for the water to heal from the effects of rain, heat, high humidity and fertilizer runoff into the lake.