Ponds & Streams


Water quality and conservation of our natural resources is our top priority and should be on the minds of all individuals. Did you know that of all the water here on Earth, only 1% is available for human use? About 97% of the water on Earth are in the oceans. The 3% of fresh water that remains, isn't all available for human use; as it's in the glaciers, icecaps and in the groundwater. We must take care of the little bit of fresh and surface water that we have!

The Wayne SWCD does NOT assist in the design of recreational ponds. However, if the intent of a pond is for agricultural purposes, such as irrigation water, livestock watering, or for use as a dry hydrant, please contact us for further assistance. Please check the Contractor's list for additional contacts, and click on the helpful links or pdf's below.

Water Resources - Where is Earth's Water?

Muddy Water

ODNR Division of Wildlife - Ohio Pond Management Handbook

Chapter 6: Page 33

Most pond owners would probably agree that having clear water adds to the aesthetics of their pond. The clarity of pond water is primarily influenced by the abundance of microscopic plants (phytoplankton), animals (zooplankton), and suspended soil particles. Phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance will influence the water clarity to varying degrees depending primarily upon the time of year, time of day, and fertility of the pond. Generally, these tiny plants and animals do not influence water clarity as significantly as suspended soil particles.

Muddy water is the result of tiny soil or clay particles suspended in the water. Muddy water can have negative effects other than detracting from the aesthetics of the pond. Muddy water can hinder the feeding ability of largemouth bass, bluegills, and redear sunfish and even reduce their growth. Additionally, phytoplankton growth and abundance is reduced in muddy water. This may compound the problem of poor fish growth in muddy ponds by reducing the amount of food available through the entire food chain.

The first step in correcting a persistent problem with muddy water is to determine the cause. To do this, collect a jar full of pond water, cover it with a lid, and allow it to sit undisturbed for one week. If the water appears clear after one week and sediment is noticed at the bottom of the jar, chances are that something in the pond is stirring up the sediments. However, if the water is still cloudy, then there is a good chance that suspended particles of clay soil are the cause of the muddy water.

The problem may also be a combination of disturbed sediments and the presence of clay soils in the watershed. If disturbed sediments are determined to be the problem, one or more of the following suggestions may help remedy the situation:

  1. Remove undesirable rough fish from your pond. Bullheads and common carp have a habit of rooting around in pond sediment while feeding. Channel catfish may also cause the same problem.

  2. Fence livestock away from the pond and avoid pasturing them on the pond’s watershed. Livestock trample and compact pond banks, causing them to erode.

  3. Establish moderate vegetative growth of rushes, sedges, and cattails to protect pond banks and shoreline areas from wave erosion.

  4. Keep domestic ducks and geese away from the pond. Their feeding activity may destroy shoreline vegetation and resuspend soil particles from the pond bottom.

  5. Maintain good vegetative cover throughout the watershed. If you do not have ownership of the entire watershed, then establish buffer strips of vegetation around the pond.

  6. Plant windbreaks to prevent wind from causing excessive wave action and disturbing sediment in shallow water.

These suggestions offer the best long-term protection against muddy pond water. It is much easier and cost effective to prevent soil particles from eroding into a pond than it is to remove them once they become a problem. If the previous methods prove unsuccessful, it is likely that the muddy water problems are caused by colloidal clay particles that stay in suspension for a long time. Since colloidal clay particles do not settle out easily, other techniques are necessary to improve water clarity. Several techniques are effective at removing colloidal clays from pond water. Each technique requires the addition of various materials to the pond that cause clay particles to settle out. These additives include organic matter (hay), aluminum sulfate (alum), calcium sulfate (agricultural gypsum), and hydrated lime. Each of them work through a chemical reaction that causes suspended clay particles to clump together. These clumps of particles are heavier than individual articles and therefore sink rather than stay suspended. Most of these additives can be purchased from local agricultural supply stores.

ODNR Division of Wildlife - Ohio Pond Management Handbook

Chapter 6: Page 33

Articles to read!

Spring Pond Management - OSU Extension

Ohio Algae Information for Recreational Waters

The information below is found on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency website.

What is a harmful algal bloom?

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) is a large growth of bacteria that can produce toxins. These toxins may affect the liver, nervous system and/or skin.

What causes HABs to form?

Some factors that can contribute to HABs include sunlight; low-water or low-flow conditions; calm water; warmer temperatures; and excess nutrients (phosphorus or nitrogen). The primary sources of nutrient pollution are runoff of fertilizers, animal manure, sewage treatment plant discharges, storm water runoff, car and power plant emissions and failing septic tanks. The State of Ohio is currently working on a statewide nutrient reduction strategy that will document ongoing nutrient reduction activities and identify areas where more work is needed.

How dangerous are HABs?

If you touch HABs, swallow water with HAB toxins or breathe in water droplets, you could get a rash, have an allergic reaction, get a stomach ache, or feel dizzy or light-headed. HABs also are toxic to pets.

Always look for HABs before going in the water. Check for HAB advisories. Ask the park manager if there has been a recent HAB because colorless toxins can still be in water.

How will I know if there is a HAB?

HABs have different colors and looks. Some colors are green, blue-green, brown, black, white, purple, red and black. They can look like film, crust or puff balls at the surface. They also may look like grass clippings or dots in the water. Some HABs look like spilled paint, pea soup, foam, wool, streaks or green cottage cheese curd. Click here for images of HABs.

What should I do if I see a HAB?

  • Stay out of water that may have a HAB.

  • Do not let your children or pets play in HAB debris on the shore.

  • After swimming or wading in lake water, even where no HABs are visible, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.

  • Never swallow any lake or river water, whether you see HABs or not.

  • Do not let pets lick HAB material from their fur or eat HAB material.

  • Do not drink or cook with lake water.

  • See a doctor if you or your children might be ill from HAB toxins. If your pet appears ill, contact your veterinarian.

  • Report the bloom to Ohio EPA by completing the Bloom Report Web form or paper form and emailing it to HABmailbox@epa.ohio.gov.

What about fishing and other activities?

If you plan to eat the fish you catch, remove the guts and liver, and rinse fillets in tap water before eating. Other activities near the water such as camping, picnicking, biking and hiking are safe. If you are picnicking, wash your hands before eating if you have had contact with lake water or shore debris.


Public Interest Center, Ohio EPA

(614) 644-2160

For more information about harmful algal blooms (HAB's), click on the link below:

Downloadable pdfs