Eco Pond Rescue

Lake Sylvia Seminole, Florida

Lake Sylvia is a 3.2 acre lake in mid Pinellas County, Florida. It is "T" shaped and is approx. 100 years old. From what we know, it started as a cattle pond and then became an irrigation pond for an orange grove. Sometime in the mid 1960's it was platted as a retention area for a sub division called Ridgewood Grove Estates. The developer dug out the ends of the lake to enlarge Lake Sylvia Pinellas County it and placed 37 homes around the perimeter.

It was originally used to drain the streets surrounding the lake and sometime in the early 1980's the drainage system was expanded to include 86 drains in a one square mile area. All draining into Lake Sylvia and then flowing into the Lake Walsingham watershed.

In the mid 1980's to early 1990's Lake Sylvia started experiencing large growths of aquatic plants, mostly hydrilla and lilly pads. The lake was chemically treated, possibly over treated, and all of the submerged vegetation died and remained on the bottom.

In the mid to late 1990's Lake Sylvia started to suffer from massive algae blooms and die-offs. Mostly string algae along with blue-green algae. The neighborhood (not a formal association) started to treat the water chemically, hiring a vendor to do this on aLake Sylvia Before Click To Enlarge monthly basis. Either Diquat or Copper was used to control the algae blooms and other nuisance problems. Tons of string algae and other bio mass sunk to the bottom and stayed there rotting.

Eventually, rotten smells and fish kills became the norm for Lake Sylvia and the homeowners looked to the government for help. At that time Pinellas County had the Adopt A Pond program where some education and lake cleanups were conducted by the several County personnelEco Pond Rescue - Click To Enlarge along with the neighbors of Lake Sylvia. Plantings of Bullrush, Arrow Head, Canna (among others) were placed in the lake to absorb nutrients and help control the algae blooms.

The Adopt A Pond Program was abolished in 2007 due to tax reductions and the homeowners of Lake Sylvia were once again "alone". Eco Pond Rescue was born of this frustration on Lake Sylvia and was privileged enough to get the contract to maintain the lake for the 37 homeowners, starting in Jan of 2008.

The approach was simple. Remove the dead biomass, aerate AND circulate the water, add a beneficial bacteria to decrease nutrients and replenish the fish popuEco Pond Rescue - Click To Enlargelation.

Eco Pond Rescue started in earnest on February 2nd of 2008 and built floating algae rakes to remove the string algae. Eco Pond Rescue and some of the homeowners raked out a whopping 40 cubic yards of string algae! Simultaneously, 4 Eco Pond Rescue aeration/circulation pumps were installed and started running 24 hours per day and the monthly beneficial bacteria treatment started as well.Eco Pond Rescue - Click To Enlarge

Initial results were good, the dissolved oxygen concentrations were stabilizing and rising on the bottom of the lake, stringalgae blooms slowed and we did not have the odor we smelled from time to time.

In May of 2008 there was a fish kill. Many small fish died in an overnight algae crash and the dissolved oxygen in the water was 0. However, around the LIPVACS the oxygen was between 2 and 3, You could see the fish huddling in the area of the pumps to stay alive. A fifth pump was put into Eco Pond Rescue - Click To EnlargeLake Sylvia that May to try andEco Pond Rescue - Click To Enlargestave off another event.

Lake Sylvia cruised through the hottest summer months without string algae blooms, no fish kills and no smells. Most importantly, Eco Pond Rescue did not use a single drop of algaecide or herbicide the entire year. That is a first for Lake Sylvia in a decade.

In August of 2008, Pinellas County Eco Pond Rescue - Click To Enlargedecided they wanted more research done on beneficial bacteria before they would allow it to be applied. They think it might violate N.P.D.E.S permit requirements. Although we did not agree, the treatments were stopped. Whether it is coincidence or not, Lake Sylvia had its first "antifreeze colored" algae bloom in October and in mid November a planktonic algae bloom caused the water to turn brown.

Whether the beneficial bacteria ,or lack of was responsible for this is unknown. However, Eco Pond Rescue is the first company to volunteer to do testing with the state DEP and Pinellas County.

Today Lake Sylvia is doing well, even though the brown bloom is still evident (2/13/09), wildlife is present in large numbers Including Blue Heron's, White Egrets, Ahingas, Osprey, Tilapia, Sun Fish, Pacu, Catfish, Coots, Turtles, Ducks and Otters. The submerged plant Eel Grass is spreading rapidly across the bottom and there have been no smells or odors.

UPDATE: Lake Sylvia still looks beautiful today (12/2009). The brown bloom is gone and for the first time in 7 years the lake has made it through an entire summer season with out a single fish kill or algae bloom.

Please watch the before and after slideshow below.