Five Benefits of Rural Ponds

Fish-farming pondHistorically ponds have been implemented for practical reasons such as irrigation, drinking water, livestock watering, erosion control and fire preparedness. More recently ponds are being installed for recreational activities like swimming and fishing as well as alternative agricultural practices like fish farming. There are also several ways that ponds contribute to conservation efforts which can be a primary reason for adding one to your property or simply a secondary benefit. The top five benefits to installing ponds on rural properties are as follows:

  1. Erosion Prevention: When placed in the right location, ponds can trap or slow water flow on your property reducing the displacement of sediment (erosion). Ponds are especially useful in hilly areas to prevent gully formation. Erosion is further limited by adding vegetation along the banks which acts as an added barrier for catching sediment.
  2. Nutrient Recycling: Along with sediment, ponds trap nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen which are commonly found in agricultural areas as either soil additives or as a byproduct of livestock waste. These nutrients pose a risk to waterways since agricultural runoff is known to cause eutrophication, a condition where excess nutrients leads to aquatic plant overgrowth and eventual lack of oxygen in the water. Ponds trap these excess nutrients and prevent them from contaminating nearby waterways. The vegetation surrounding the pond acts as a natural filter by capturing and recycling the nutrients which improves the quality of the water remaining in the pond.
  3. Wildlife: Shallow ponds without fish are prime habitat for amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, especially for breeding. If the pond is linked with a wooded area or has dense surrounding vegetation, it may also serve as preferable habitat for reptiles like turtles and snakes. Various species of waterfowl regularly use ponds for breeding, feeding, brood-rearing, and resting during migration which can be further encouraged by adding islands to your pond. The benefits of wildlife go beyond aesthetics and include the control of pest animals like mosquitoes and rodents.
  4. Fire Preparedness: When properly planned, ponds are capable of providing the quantity of water needed to suppress large fires involving rural buildings. The pond must be in a strategic location in proximity to the buildings, contain at least 8,000 gallons of water for a 2,000 square foot house, and an adjacent fire hydrant accessible to fire trucks.
  5. Profit: Ponds present a number of financial opportunities in rural areas either independently or in support of other profitable practices. Fish-farming and other aquaculture practices such as rearing shrimp, crawfish, and plants are some examples of alternative agriculture ventures. There’s also the potential for non-agriculture related opportunities like recreation and leisure activities.

Of course there’s also the obvious aesthetic appeal that ponds bring rural properties by adding a pleasing and tranquil atmosphere. If you are Pondering Installing a Pond there are numerous software programs which can help with the ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

Jessica Furlong contributed to the research for this post.

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About Risa Pesapane

Risa is the Project Director for Rural System, Inc. and is an experienced research biologist and wildlife ecologist.

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