Aquatic vegetation has many benefits as it can provide cover for fish and wildlife, food for waterfowl, can reduce erosion, and even increase water clarity. However, if not properly managed, aquatic vegetation can sometimes create problems. This is especially true when it comes to invasive plant species.
Some problems caused by aquatic vegetation include restricting navigation by tangling in props (especially in a lake that only allows electric motors), creating dense mats that are difficult to swim or fish in or around, providing a place for non aesthetically pleasing filamentous algae to grow, clogging intakes, and providing habitat where mosquito larvae can survive. When vegetation causes these problems it is often considered a nuisance. The level of nuisance is often determined by the lake use or the lake user. For example, if a lake is primarily a fishing lake, folks might prefer more aquatic vegetation than in a lake that is heavily used for swimming, boating, or is highly developed with year round residences. In cases where a lake has multiple uses, it is important to strike a balance where some vegetation is left to provide cover for fish and maintain water clarity, while enough vegetation is controlled to provide an aesthetically pleasing lake that is usable for recreation. That is the strategy we have adopted for Tipton Lakes.
Aquatic Control uses EPA registered aquatic herbicides and state certified aquatic applicators to keep vegetation from reaching nuisance levels in Tipton Lakes. These herbicides are typically applied in early spring and again in early summer in order to control the two invasive plants found in Tipton Lakes, curlyleaf pondweed and brittle naiad. In addition to the herbicide treatments, we also apply monthly applications of EPA registered aquatic algaecides to control filamentous algae (the green slimy stuff that floats on top). The algaecide will only control algae that is present at the time of treatment as aquatic herbicides and algaecides are designed to rapidly break down or only remain active for a short period of time. This is the reason we are on the lake at least once per month during the growing season.
Algae can return within 2-4 weeks of treatments, so you may notice some regrowth between applications. In addition to controlling the filamentous algae, the algaecides also control a bushy rooted algae called chara. This rooted algae does provide good fish cover and helps clear the water, so we just put enough algaecide in to keep it in check in the very shallow areas or in areas where there will be a lot of boat traffic. Every once in a while we will make a special trip back to the lake to touch up one of these areas where the chart has reached a potentially nuisance level.
So what can you do as an individual to help preserve and protect this aquatic resource? First off, if you have any issues with aquatic vegetation please contact the Association office and they will let us know. We can’t be on the lake every day and we don’t want to kill every plant in the lake, so this extra observation and communication are an integral part of the plant management plan for Tipton Lakes. In addition, keep in mind that fertilizers you add to your yard may eventually find their way into the lake creating more problems. It is important that if you fertilize your yard, use phosphorus free fertilizer, as phosphorus is the limiting nutrient to algae growth in our area. In addition, it is important that you don’t blow yard waste into the lake. This organic material will add to the nutrient levels thus increasing the amount of algae growth in the lake. Also, please do not intentionally or unintentionally add any animal or fish species to the lake. We are already dealing with two invasive plants and would prefer not to have any others added to the mix.
For more information on aquatic plant and lake management please visit the following websites: http://www.aquatics.org/bmp.html, www.aquaticcontrol.com, www.mapms.org, or http://www.indianalakes.org.