Winning the War Against Algae

May 1, 2008

For years, the Rockland Country Club in Rockland County, N.Y., fought a losing battle against algae in a pond located below the clubhouse. Although the club ran two aerators and a manmade waterfall and stocked the lake with imported koi, the water remained covered with algae. For members of the club, what should have been an enhancement to the beauty of the course became an eyesore.

Algae are present on vegetation and in the air, soil and water. They are primitive aquatic plants that differ from other plants by lacking true stems, leaves or roots. Their microscopic spores are continuously introduced into water bodies by wind and runoff from rain showers. When algae growth is uncontrolled in a body of water, the water can become murky, and its pH and total suspended solids will increase. These factors and the toxic nature of certain algae will result in destruction of the water’s natural ecosystem and lead to unsightly water.

Ponds are settling basins for nutrients washing in from the land. Runoff from highly fertilized fairways or landscaping accelerates nutrient loading and contributes to algae growth.

Goodbye Blooms

Matt Ceplo, the club’s superintendent, installed the SonicSolutions Ultrasonic Algae Control System Model SS 500 on July 1, 2004, at one end of the lake. Exactly one month after the installation, Matt photographed the problematic pond and found remarkable results.

“The ‘machine’ is working,” Ceplo said, “I couldn’t swear that it took care of the algae all by itself, but the pond sure looks better.” The algae had cleared and the pond looked better than before. No algae crowded the spurting fountain, and the edges were completely cleared of any blooms. In its second season of use, the pond had almost no blooms of algae.

The system works through a transducer, submerged just beneath the surface, which is programmed to generate ultrasonic waves that inhibit the growth and spread of algae. The waves “fan out” at 180 degrees from the front of the transducer. The units are safe, easy to install, require little maintenance and use approximately 45 watts of power. The system will eliminate recurring algae blooms. It is safe for fish and does not use chemicals, so there is no harm done to the special koi, plants or other aquatic life.

The system’s power supply is approved by Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and certain models (the SS 400, SS 500 and SS 600) are certified to NSF/ANSI 61 standards, so they are safe to use in the drinking water supply. For locations where there is no power supply, the system is available in a 24-volt version for use with a solar-power unit that can be bought separately. There are currently five power models available, capable of providing coverage for up to 5 acres depending on conditions.

About the Author

Paul Benjamin