Don’t overlook the importance of water quality

By |  February 2, 2023 0 Comments
Superintendent Derrick Wozniak says the PondHawk system helped eliminate an “unbearable” smell from an irrigation pond. (Photo: Pondhawk)

Superintendent Derrick Wozniak says the PondHawk system helped eliminate an “unbearable” smell from an irrigation pond. (Photo: PondHawk)

For Derrick Wozniak, superintendent at Radley Run CC in West Chester, Pa., irrigation pond management used to stink.

Wozniak says their 3.6-acre long, narrow pond, surrounded by woods and in a valley, suffers from minimal air movement and would get significant algae bloom. Following a rain event or high relative humidity, the pond would emit a strong smell.

Located behind Radley Run’s clubhouse, tennis courts and pools, members would complain about the pond’s smell. So, it would be a stinky situation for Wozniak and the Radley Run maintenance team.

“At times, it was literally unbearable,” he says.

Wozniak says it was a challenge to get his club on board with the investment for a pond that is literally out of sight. But, following a presentation from PondHawk and the pond’s location, solar energy made sense to the club. Radley Run has three solar panels along the pond with six diffusers.

“It oxygenates the water and aerates the pond, which leads to healthier water conditions and improves the health and the aesthetics and everything else in the ecosystem within the pond,” he says.

Wozniak says Radley Run’s irrigation pond is its lifeblood. He says thanks to the PondHawk system, the pond continually feeds the course with water free from impurities even as runoff feeds into this pond.

“Irrigation water quality is extremely important,” he says. “It affects everything. On the golf course, it affects your soil, it affects plant health.”

Wozniak says the PondHawk system needs routine maintenance with pump replacements every few years. But the best part of the system?

“They were installed in 2018, and we haven’t heard a complaint about the smell since,” he says.

Jim Spindler (Photo: Ecologel Solutions)

Jim Spindler (Photo: Ecologel Solutions)

Ecologel Solutions

James Spindler, CPAg, CCA, CSSA

Director of agronomy

Golf course water features can be a critical part of a golf course’s character. Ponds and lakes add beauty and challenge the golfer, but they can also be a management challenge to the superintendent. Keeping the water clean and odor-free takes planning. Managing nutrients and oxygen content in water bodies is key to maintaining clean, odor-free water. Nutrients come from sources such as leaves, clipping, waterfowl droppings and runoff. Anything that can be done to limit these nutrient sources during the winter months and the rest of the year will help water quality during the season. Plan to use a bacterial product in a program to digest the excess nutrients that tend to promote algae growth, cloudy water and foul odors.

Craig Burton (Photo: PondHawk)

Craig Burton (Photo: PondHawk)


Craig Burton


For many superintendents, January is budget time. By recalling the pond headaches from the summer, winter is the time for superintendents to develop a plan for subsurface aeration to improve water quality. Subsurface water aeration delivers oxygen and circulation to the pond, reduces algae and odors and helps superintendents cut costs, all while improving the water that will eventually nourish the turf. Most superintendents understand the benefits of adding oxygen to the water but have found running power to the pond cost prohibitive. This is where solar aeration really delivers. By using solar-powered subsurface aeration, the superintendent gains the benefits of improved water quality without the cost of power, ongoing electric expenses and winter labor maintenance.

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About the Author: Christina Herrick

Christina Herrick is the former editor of Golfdom magazine.

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