Aeration improves dugout water quality
   

Data in a current PFRA study has shown that continuous long-term aeration improved water quality by significantly reducing total and reactive phosphorous, chlorophyll a, color, and also increases water clarity.

Aeration assists the natural ecosystem reduce the stress put on it by oxygen depleting processes, such as organic loading, which are amplified by high evaporation in the summer and ice cover in the winter.

This study, supported and funded by the Canada-Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund, is documenting aeration benefits and looking at more effective and efficient aeration designs.

Aerated dugouts have shown uniform oxygen levels throughout the water column. Water temperature also shows uniformity from top to bottom . This contrasts with non-aerated dugouts that show vertical stratification (layers) of both oxygen and temperature .

Some concerns have been raised that during summer months the continuous mixing of water will increase water temperature and aid evaporation. Data in Tables 2 and 4 show this doesn't happen.

For optimum dissolved oxygen levels, aeration systems should be operated 24 hours a day using a fine bubble diffuser with the diffuser at the deepest part of the dugout.

Air diffusers create small bubbles, provide better water circulation and maintain higher levels of dissolved oxygen than open ended tubing.
Diffusers should be placed at the dugout bottom so the aerated water circulates over the surface of the mud. This keeps the bottom oxidized thus preventing nutrients and other substances from being released from the sediment. When the diffuser is first placed on the dugout bottom, sediment will be displaced and put into suspension. However, the sediment will quickly settle.

When a diffuser is placed above the bottom of a dugout, the water below the level of the diffuser become anoxic (has insufficient oxygen). As a result, nutrients are released and may fuel algal growth.

After installing aeration equipment, a regular inspection and maintenance scheduled is recommended. This will ensure continuous aeration and help maintain the dissolved oxygen at its optimum level, prevent anoxic conditions and provide better water quality.


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