January 4, 2018 – From fishing to hiking to skating, outdoor recreation doesn’t stop throughout the winter. Many of these activities take place on or around frozen lakes and ponds. As winter storm Grayson sweeps the nation, it’s important to ensure proper safety steps are taken near the water. SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental firm that specializes in sustainable lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management strategies, encourages extra caution around frozen waterbodies this week and the rest of the winter season:
Many neighborhood waterbodies are considered stormwater retention ponds, which are created to serve a municipal role in a community. Stormwater ponds and facilities are designed to hold and then release water. This means that after the surface of the pond freezes, the water level beneath the ice could drop, leaving an air gap under the ice. Ice that is not directly on top of water is not safe, and should never be walked or skated on.
Lakes and Ponds with Aeration Systems
Thick ice doesn’t always mean safe ice, particularly on waterbodies with aeration systems. Floating fountains and submersed diffused aeration systems are useful tools to increase water circulation and prevent the accumulation of strong ice on a lake or pond. As such, bodies of water that utilize these systems may develop ice that is not uniform and should be regarded with extreme caution.
Fenced or Marked Lakes and Ponds
Municipalities and professional lake management companies often post signage or place fencing around lakes, ponds or reservoirs that can pose a risk to recreators. Following a heavy snow, these types of markers may be difficult to see. It’s important to always be observant and refrain from entering unknown areas, especially during cold winter conditions.
Waterbodies in Temperate Regions
Venturing onto a frozen body of water can be dangerous, and should only be attempted when the ice is known to be solid. It’s safe to assume that lakes and ponds located throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic should never be walked or skated on, simply because these regions do not stay cold enough to form strong, thick ice.
As with any time of year, lakes and ponds offer an enjoyable backdrop for many activities, but safety should always be the first priority around any waterbody. If you’re unsure about ice thickness on a lake or pond, the safest course of action is to refrain from centering recreation on the water. However, if you do to choose to walk, fish, skate or sled on a frozen waterbody remember the following tips:
Never go alone
Be aware of changing weather conditions, which can affect ice strength
Test ice thickness using a drill or ice pick
Dress in temperature-appropriate clothing
Wear a life jacket and ice picks to help pull yourself from a collapsed pond
Stay away from submersed structure like rocks, stumps and fish cover
Have a backup plan should something go wrong
Make sure you have a rope and dry clothes on hand
Get more winter lake and pond management tips at www.solitudelakemanagement.com
SOLitude Lake Management is an environmental firm committed to providing full-service solutions that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, hydro-raking, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Services, consulting and aquatic products are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, parks, and state and federal agencies. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.