How to reclaim your dugout's water
The early spring runoff that graciously filled
your dugout appeared to be clean, clear, ready-to-use water.
plants and/or algae have taken over your dugout and seem unwilling
to give back the fresh water you had just a short time
ago. If that's your situation, don't despair because you can reclaim
What you might not realize is that spring runoff also contained
a fresh supply of nutrients. If your dugout water is replenished
year by runoff, your dugout is likely getting an overdose of nutrients.
overdose is a plant's dream. Your dugout's aquatic plants and
algae use the nutrients to grow. In the case of increased nutrients,
the aquatic vegetation will flourish in your dugout, possibly
toxic effects such as with blue-green algae.
As well, drought conditions result in lower dugout water levels
which add to aquatic plant and algae problems. The reason is
level allows more sunlight penetration and will provide energy
(photosynthesis) for aquatic vegetation to thrive.
There are ways to improve and reclaim your water quality.
Prevention is the golden key for controlling aquatic vegetation
problems. All of the following preventive measures are effective,
do take time
One measure is to build a dike around your dugout
to reduce the amount of nutrients from entering your dugout. Another
flow of nutrients into a dugout is by grassing the waterways.
critical prevention step is to keep your livestock out of your
dugout. Livestock trampling up and down the
can lead to serious erosion problems. Livestock manure
or septic systems can also contain an abundant amount
bacteria that will feed the aquatic plant life.
Treatment a key
A second key to dugout water quality is treatment.
Treatment can be costly, and proper steps must be followed to ensure
treatment. Depending on your budget and dugout conditions, there
are a few solutions.
The first step is to determine whether one
or both of algae or aquatic plants are your dugout's problem. The
second step is deciding whether
you'll use a chemical or mechanical treatment method.
methods may be effective they may not suit everyone. The best mechanical
methods are labor intensive such as hand pulling
or raking the aquatic vegetation.
Although chemical treatments are
effective, not everyone likes the thought of adding chemicals
to their water. And, if you decide to
chemically treat your dugout you'll need to know the effects
to the local environment . You'll need to answer questions such as:
have any fish? Does the dugout water drain into a watershed area?
are different types of chemicals available for controlling aquatic
vegetation. The most commonly used chemicals are copper sulphate
(bluestone), hydrated lime, Reglone A (with diquat), and aluminum
Some chemicals work on both plants and algae and
others work better on one or the other. Application rates vary
depending type of chemical
treatment you choose and on the amount of water currently in your
Bluestone is effective for blue-green types of algae and
ineffective for plant control. However, it's relatively inexpensive
easy to apply. Reglone A is effective against plants, but has
effect on algae.
Hydrated lime is effective against both algae and
plants, and has an added bonus of settling out the available nutrients
in the water
reducing the supply for aquatic vegetation. Alum is an effective
coagulant for dugouts and is used for settling out fine sediment
in dugout water.
Benefits of aeration
Do note, that although the mechanical and chemical
treatment methods are effective, they are only effective for a
short periods. You can
extend this time period and maximize treatments by aerating your
dugout. A small electric air compressor or windmill type aerator
will help increase the needed amount of oxygen in your water.
water quality is very important to everyone. Creating a proper
ecological program for your dugout water supply through prevention,
treatment and maintenance can ensure quality water for the future.