Do Pond Aerators Work?

Whether it is not enough water, too much water, or poor quality, water is always a major topic among golf superintendents. This natural resource is the bloodline of a golf course. Without water, the greens and fairways burn up. On the other hand, too much water causes turf fungus and disease. Poor water quality equals poor turf, clogged irrigation lines and sprinkler heads resulting in increased maintenance and costs.

Air-O-Lator President Roy Watkins attended the Annual Golfdom Summit in Orlando, Florida. Air-O-Lator has attended and sponsored the event for three years, meeting with over 120 superintendents from across the country as well as prominent leaders in the golf industry.

Four common issues identified by superintendents:

  • Devices spraying water above the surface seen as excessive or distracting
  • Chemical and biological treatment problems
  • Aeration or fountains applied or sized incorrectly
  • Budget concerns

Many golf courses are designed to present a more natural landscape. Some say surface aerators and decorative outdoor fountains are not part of a natural looking environment. However, superintendents know they need to manage and maintain the water quality of their ponds. Often, golf courses turn to chemical or biological treatment for their ponds to eliminate algae and unwanted plants.

While chemical treatment will provide immediate results in the appearance of the pond, it can be costly and without the addition of supplemental aeration and mixing, this type of water management will cause other problems down the road. Chemicals lead to oxygen depletion and the aquatic plants that are killed sink to the bottom and begin to decay thus consuming more oxygen and building up sludge on the bottom of the pond. This results in using more and more chemical treatments. Left untreated, a pond becomes septic.

Biological treatment is a safer alternative but will not provide an immediate result and without sufficient oxygen levels, the aerobic bacteria will not survive. Aeration and water movement should always be part of a water management program.

In most cases, golf courses are installing submersible diffused aerators (bubblers). This is a good choice if water levels are not too shallow to provide sufficient oxygen dispersion. Water movement (mixing), especially at the surface, is critical in providing an aesthetic looking body of water. Surface aerators or fountains should be correctly sized for the body of water and properly located in the pond.

Staying within budget is always a concern, but money spent upfront to properly aerate water saves dollars and frustration on the backend. Dredging and cleaning unhealthy water can be quite costly. If done correctly at the beginning, proper aeration with the right equipment is eco-friendly and less expensive than using chemical treatments.

One of the misconceptions is that surface aerators must be operated continuously. For those golf courses that do not want to see splashing surface aerators, Air-O-Lator’s Aquarian Professional Aerator has a very low profile with a spray height under 24″. The surface aerators can be easily removed and installed. Additionally, they do not need to be operated every day. Running the units from dusk to dawn is recommended to significantly reduce evaporation and lower water temperatures.