Property managers are extremely important to Foster Lake & Pond Management. Most of our business comes from them. Personally, I couldn’t do the work. They only hear complaints and often the people complaining have self-serving objectives that conflict with whatever is good for the group. Furthermore, property managers must be at least somewhat knowledgeable about an enormous number of diverse subjects.
Recently we had an instance where a property manager asked us to quote some work based on a request from a homeowners’ association. They wanted us to control nuisance vegetation in a stormwater pond system. The problem was they wanted the quote limited to applying one aquatic herbicide in two applications one month apart. I was able to explain that limiting our options and not considering our expertise developed over 30 years of experience was not in their best interests. Here is a portion of my explanation. I hope it resonates with other property managers.
I would like to reply to your request in detail because you have paid for and deserve our professional opinion and expertise. Please let me explain why I would not recommend that strategy. Limiting the tool choice for managing aquatic vegetation to just one chemical is not wise, both from an environmental or cost perspective. Furthermore, two treatments with that chemical will provide very inconsistent vegetation management. Your property owners would not be satisfied.
The desired chemical is a contact herbicide that simply burns back any vegetation it contacts. It may not kill the roots or entire plant. The plants will return. The plants may easily spread, too. You will have no choice but continual treatments. That chemical kills any plant surface it touches, being very non-selective. That means beneficial vegetation is damaged just like nuisance vegetation. That chemical is relatively expensive and would certainly not be cost-effective for controlling filamentous algae (for example). Other chemicals and other formulations can be much more effective long-term. Our strategy is to study and know what products and techniques will be most cost-effective over the long term. An example would be granular products that sink and contacts susceptible plants deep in the water column. Much less chemical can be used. Many are also much less expensive to purchase and apply than the chemical you requested.
We know from over 30 years of experience managing lakes in North Carolina that the most effective approach is to utilize all of the available tools: chemical, biological and mechanical vegetation management. Sterile grass carp are often the most effective tool for long-term cost effectiveness. Chemical treatments alone are affected by water depth, temperature, clarity, hardness, nutrient levels, amount of rainfall, amount of sunlight and a multitude of other factors. Nuisance plant species grow at different rates, too. Limiting management to two applications means some species won’t be affected at all and some species will reach nuisance levels before being treated.
Aquatic vegetation management is complex and over simplification does cause harm (both in terms of ineffectiveness and wasted money). We believe the lack of an integrated management strategy in the past has increased your vegetation problems. If the beneficial plants were allowed to survive and the nuisance plants were controlled more consistently, we are convinced the lakes would be healthier and the residents would be more satisfied.
Your lakes are valuable amenities for your property owners. Your “one chemical only management” strategy ignores all of the other lake management factors that will maintain the value. Fisheries, aesthetics, water quality maintenance, wildlife habitat, erosion and sedimentation will be ignored. Knowing how those conditions are developing will allow corrections to be made before they become expensive problems. Property values benefit with consistent maintenance and knowledgeable management.
We understand your obligation and appreciate your commitment to keep costs as low as possible for your property owners. We also know from our vast experience that lakes (just like landscaping except more so) must receive comprehensive monitoring, regular maintenance and timely repairs or their value diminishes. We know that simply applying that chemical twice per year would not satisfy your property owners, particularly over time. That would cause our reputation to be damaged. We cannot survive unless we are competitive in cost and we know we provide the best service for the cost in North Carolina. Anyone in our company will be happy to discuss this in whatever detail you want whenever you want. We are making these comments because we care about the health of your lakes, the satisfaction of your property owners and our relationship with you and your company. Please let us know if there is anything we can do better!
Fortunately, the property manager involved agreed with the explanation and was able to convince the homeowners’ group to reconsider. I’m convinced the lakes will benefit long-term for little or no additional cost. Please be careful when limiting the options of experienced professionals who sincerely want to provide value and satisfy customers.