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How pond aerator maintenance can become a revenue stream

November 17, 2021 -  By
To have a pond that maintains its aesthetically pleasing look, aeration is key. (Photo: Linne Industries)

To have a pond that maintains its aesthetically pleasing look, aeration is key. (Photo: PondHawk by LINNE Industries)

After installing a pond, Lloyd Lightsey sits down and has a long talk with the water feature’s new owner. Water on a property is great, but without proper maintenance, you’ll quickly be dealing with a smelly nuisance.

“Aeration is absolutely critical, and you need to keep that aerator clean and well maintained,” says Lightsey, owner of The Pond Monster in Winter Haven Fla., a company that builds and maintains ponds for 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial customers, with most of that commercial work going to homeowner associations.

Without aeration, Lightsey says pond water gets stagnant. Most water features are near professionally maintained lawns or agriculture, so nitrogen-based fertilizers often wash in, feeding algae growth, which can lead to nasty odors and green water and choke off other plant life or fish in a pond.

Sean Simonpietri, owner of Exact Stormwater Management in Midlothian, Va., agrees. His company services several rural ponds, making maintenance a bigger challenge.

“A bubbler creates a current, equalizes the water temperature between the surface of the pond and the bottom, reduces algae growth and keeps the water clearer,” Simonpietri says.

Keeping aerators operating properly depends on the system type. Lightsey says he only works with aerators attached to a power supply. At installation, he puts in system power connections, water connections and exhaust fans in elevated metal boxes where they’ll be safe from mowing crews or low-level flooding.

Maintaining those boxes means monthly visits to check water connections, clean aerator filters, examine electrical connections and clean components.

“Typically, I’ll charge for one hour of service, once a month,” Lightsey says. “It’s not a huge amount of revenue, but if you can get contracts for a bunch of ponds, it adds up.”

His service customers tend to be residential clients. Commercial users and homeowner associations tend to do their own pond maintenance, so Lightsey says he spends time training them on maintenance instead of offering contract service.

Off the grid

Simonpietri also offers service contracts to maintain pond systems, but he takes a different approach at the installation stage. With his primarily rural clientele, many of his ponds are nowhere near a power supply.

“You can spend as much money running power to the pond as the rest of the system,” he says. So, Exact Stormwater offers self-contained systems that power aerators with solar panels.

The systems include a floating aerator that stays below the water’s surface but above the silt of pond beds, a solar panel and weighted air lines that attach to the aerator and fall to the bottom of the pond.

“The systems are stand-alone, but they still need maintenance,” Simonpietri says. Crews visit ponds about once a month to clean solar panels, make sure they’re oriented properly, inspect aerator filters and make sure all connections are still good.

Lightsey says he’s seen the solar systems and calls them “interesting” but isn’t convinced they’re a good fit for central Florida. Between torrential rains, hurricanes and hail storms, he worries that solar panels may require frequent visits.

“I’m old school. Just give me a power plug,” Lightsey says.

Todd Brown, irrigation project manager for Tuckahoe Landscaping in Rockville, Va., says his company has had good luck with solar-powered systems. Tuckahoe is 100 percent commercial, typically acting as a pond specialist for general contractors, so it doesn’t use maintenance for a revenue stream.

“We chose the Pond Hawk (solar systems) because you don’t have to maintain much,” Brown says. “We talk to the general contractor about what people will need to do, and we offer a one-year warranty, but outside of that, we don’t end up doing a lot of service.”

Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's former senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s.

1 Comment on "How pond aerator maintenance can become a revenue stream"

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  1. Gautam Singh says:

    “The primary goal of aeration is to enhance and maintain dissolved oxygen levels throughout the water column in ponds and lakes.

    It’s important to maintain the machine and can cost you periodically. Thank you for writing the article.