We have an abundance of ponds and lagoons in our community. It has been said that in the Lowcountry if you dig a hole, it will soon fill with water, and in short order, all kinds of wildlife will inhabit the pond.

Many of these ponds begin as stormwater retention ponds. In time, birds use them as roosting sites and feed on the fish and amphibians that inhabit the pond. Later, stormwater ponds can evolve into habitat and recreational  areas for fishing, canoeing and as peaceful areas for relaxing and enjoying nature.

However, many of these ponds are shallow and are susceptible to contamination from the overuse of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides on our lawns and gardens.

Oxidation deprivation that can result from algae blooms severely impacts the health of the pond. In the hot Lowcountry summers,  water temperature can reach more than 100 degrees. Warmer water temperatures generally mean less oxygen in the water. Because oxygen is necessary for all animals, its deprivation can lead to unsightly and smelly fish die-offs. So what can we do? 

Many ponds are surrounded by housing development, parks, golf courses, etc. If these waters are going to stay healthy, we need to manage them properly.

Many of us tend to use these terms “ponds” and “lagoons” interchangeably. But there is a difference.

Technically,  a body of water connected to the sea through one or more channels or inlets, which often cut through a narrow barrier island of erodible material, is a lagoon. Water exchange occurs between the lagoon and the sea because of tides, river flow, wind and waves.

A pond is an inland body of standing water, either natural or man-made, that is smaller than a lake.

This means that our lagoons can be refreshed with tidal water and can balance the high temperatures of our Southern summers. It also means that chemicals that we put on our lawns and golf greens have a chance to be washed out to sea.

As homeowners, especially those who abut lagoons or ponds, we need to take responsibility for what seeps into them. We need to minimize the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

As I have said in previous columns, we must maintain a balance between progress and keeping things natural. But once we alter the natural environment with man-made lagoons or ponds, we have a responsibility to see that they are maintained and working properly.  This requires regular monitoring and repairs of connecting channels, pumps, etc. If allowed to deteriorate, the financial and environmental costs can be profound.

John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek. john.a.riolo@gmail.com