The property I am trying to rehabilitate is 80 acres has six smaller ponds, a 9 acre pond/reservoir on it (the county built it as a flood control measure in the sixties or seventies,) and three creeks. They are full of run off from all over the small college city.
What can I do to improve the ecology and the purity of the water in the creeks and the ponds. It currently has pecans and cat-tales around it. Cattle used to graze around it. There are a number of different types of fish. Ducks and geese are known to show up in the summer and fall. No snakes that I have seen, no frogs, no mosquitoes. It is in a hardiness area of 7 or 8 depending on the year according to the local farmers.
I would eventually like to harvest the pecans if possible and use the excess water in swales for other areas on the property.
Put some mycofiltration zones across the incoming water flows. Paul Stamets (see my mycoremediation thread) talks about good results he obtained by building mycofiltration zones to take care of E. coli contamination from too many cow pies. What this entails would be installing and maintaining berms of wood chips or other fungal media across the creeks in strategic places.
The cattails are a good sign, because they are often used in phytoremediation schemes. If they are where the creeks drain into a pond, you could heavily mulch the area up from them with wood chips and that would likely take care of most of the problem. If you let tree trimming services know that you have a place for them to dump their chippings, you could probably get your fungal media for free. The only thing to do then would be to inoclulate the wood chips with a good diversity of fungi (and those you can collect locally).
Are there many oaks on the property, and if so, what species?
Location: Stillwater OK hardiness of 7 or 8 depending on the year
Stephanie Williams wrote:There may be a dozen oaks if that many, I have not identified what species yet. It is mostly just pecans and a few varieties of conifers.
The reason I asked about oaks is that usually they support a good amount of mycorrhizal fungi, the kind that will detoxify the runoff into your ponds. But pecans do that as well. My neighbors have quite a few pecan trees and there is always a diverse crop of mushrooms after a heavy rain. This time of year you can also use leaf litter and downed branches from them to de-toxify the runoff. If you rake it to where the water courses are, that will get you started until you can get some deliveries of chipped brush.
Have you had your water tested for pollutants? Like Michael suggest, you may have less of a problem than you think. Testing would indicate what types of pollution you are dealing with - chem fertilizers v. animal waste, etc. Or even if there is a problem. If a fairly robust ecosystem is already in place, one of the best things you can do is leave it alone or make very minor tweaks.
Slowing and sinking any runoff before it reaches your ponds will help mitigate pollutants by passing it through biomass and healthy soils. Slowing and sinking can be done with swales on contour and/or keylines. Reeds (like cattails) are pollution filterers so the fact that they are there is indeed a good sign. As is the lack of mosquitos - fish eat mosquitos/larvae so you must have a fairly balanced system if you're not seeing a huge mosquito population.
I know Geoff Lawton indicates to NOT let livestock graze the edges of ponds for a couple of reasons including heavy trampling and compacting of the soils in the area and the decimation of the edge plants. In his systems, he usually pumps (or gravity feeds when possible) water from the pond to a tank for the animals to drink from. This also keeps their "deposits" from being in overabundance near the pond.
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"
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