By Bo Burns
Algae: it comes in many forms and colors. It’s slimy, stinky and can ruin the beauty and function of your golf course lakes and irrigation systems. It’s also one of the oldest known organisms on this planet, which might explain its knack for survival, even under the toughest conditions. Over time, golf courses and property management companies have learned to pick sides when it comes to the safe eradication of stubborn and harmful algal blooms—some in favor of natural management techniques; others in support of applying EPA-registered algaecides to ensure the job gets done. But this year, a new game changing technology will make the management of stubborn algae blooms a no-brainer with more long-lasting results that are beneficial for the environment.
Nanobubble aeration is a premium innovative technology designed to exceed the capabilities of traditional lake and pond aeration systems by providing up to 79,000x more oxygen! Put simply, nanobubbles are like traditional aeration systems on steroids. Produced by compact on-shore generators, these ultra-fine bubbles are completely invisible to the eye and about 1 million times smaller than ordinary bubbles. As a result of their tiny size, nanobubbles have no natural buoyancy and do not rise to the surface of the water and burst like you might expect. Amazingly, they remain within the water column for up to 2-3 months, providing unparalleled oxygenation to struggling lakes and ponds at your property.
The benefits of a continuously oxygenated lake or pond are enormous. First, oxygen is a key player in the battle against undesirable nutrients by facilitating the conversion of phosphorus to forms that do not sustain algae development. Excess nutrients can easily enter golf course lakes and ponds in the form of grass clippings, lawn fertilizers, trash, and droppings from geese and other wildlife. The presence of oxygen also helps to balance pH and other related water quality parameters that encourage the growth of fish, native organisms and beneficial phytoplankton – rather than detrimental bacteria like E. Coli, and cyanobacteria species that can be toxic to humans and wildlife and are believed to contribute to degenerative diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Another amazing benefit of nanobubbles? In addition to engulfing an entire aquatic ecosystem in concentrated oxygen, nanobubbles are negatively charged and, therefore, attracted to positively charged organic matter in the water column. When they connect with positively charged metals and pollutants, including dangerous cyanobacteria toxins, nanobubbles cause them to implode(!), holistically cleansing the waterbody from the inside out.
This innovative water quality solution did not just appear overnight. Nanobubbles have been used in the medical field, the oil and gas business, food preparation areas, and even the beauty industry for purification purposes. However, SOLitude Lake Management is the first environmental firm to advance this technology for large-scale freshwater management applications through continuous research and development with select manufacturers and regulatory agencies.
Through many promising tests and trials, we’ve learned some exciting things: Golf course superintendents and property managers who utilize nanobubbles can expect to significantly reduce and even eliminate reliance on traditional algaecides. Nanobubbles have no negative impacts on turfgrass or ornamental vegetation when monitoring and managing dissolved oxygen levels. Nanobubbles help strengthen the health and longevity of the entire food chain, providing unparalleled aesthetic and ecological balance.
Nanobubble aeration isn’t just a quick fix or band-aid; it’s a custom, data-driven solution rooted in years of scientific study and first-hand monitoring experience. The technology doesn’t necessarily replace regular proactive management strategies, but it is truly one of the missing pieces to the puzzle of sustainable freshwater management. Used in conjunction with traditional tools like floating fountains, buffer management, mechanical hydro-raking and regular lake and pond inspections, nanobubbles can help keep your water resources healthier and prettier for much longer periods of time, while eliminating nuisance algae and dangerous cyanotoxins before they begin causing problems.
Nanobubble aeration is poised to transform the entire way we approach the management of lakes and ponds and will be an invaluable tool as urban development and undesirable nutrient loading continue to increase. We’re excited to shepherd this new technology in to the freshwater management realm and look forward to further enhancing water quality on your property and throughout the world.
Bo Burns is a Biologist and Market Development Manager at SOLitude Lake Management, an industry-leading environmental firm. He specializes in the research and development of new technologies using more than 30 years of industry experience along with a Master of Environmental Management degree in Resource and Wetland Ecology from Duke University. This article is the first in a series featuring new break-through technologies that will revolutionize the management of lakes, stormwater ponds, wetlands and fisheries in 2019.