Aquatic Maintenance Is “Serious” Fun

Spring is the time to get busy with maintenance for outdoor pools. Photo Courtesy Randy Gaddo

Treated water-system parks require regular water-quality checks, as prescribed by the local health board. In addition, park officials should periodically monitor water pressure to ensure it is at a safe discharge rate.

Lakes, Ponds, And Streams

Ponds, lakes, streams, and other outdoor, natural (or manmade) bodies of water also can be included in the inventory of aquatic facilities, and generally, in whole or in part, come under parks-department care.

While the casual observer might think these “natural” amenities take care of themselves, parks and rec maintenance pros know better.

“Ponds and lakes are especially vulnerable to pollution, even more so than streams,” say the experts at Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts, a lake- and stream-planning, design, construction, and management firm.

“Ponds and lakes are great big sponges for excess nutrients and pollution. They can also have a difficult time dealing with heavy loads of nutrients generated from areas of intense human use, such as cities,” notes the Oregon-based firm’s website.

Streams have their own set of maintenance issues compounded by generally flowing into, through, and out of a parks and rec jurisdiction, so what somebody does upstream impacts maintenance, and what is done (or not done) affects not only patrons upstream but others downstream as well.

Streams often serve as an erosion-control mechanism, as well as a recreational amenity. Sometimes the maintenance required for one function isn’t conducive with another. For example, clearing trees and bushes from the banks may be great for fishing, but not for erosion control.

Since the introduction of flood-management programs in the 1950s, routine maintenance for streams has continued to be assessed and prioritized seasonally to address sediment removal, bank stabilization, vegetation management, and other issues, according to the Sonoma County, Calif., Water Agency on its website’s educational page.

The experts in Sonoma also point out that streams and other natural bodies of water have to comply with federal and state laws and regulations, further complicating the job of a parks and rec maintenance manager.

While water departments, state or federal agencies, or non-profit conservancies are usually responsible for the care and cleaning of natural water resources, parks and rec departments often get involved in some way.

Parks that border ponds, lakes, or streams can be sites for special events or passive recreation, such as picnicking or fishing, that generally benefit from parks and rec involvement.

So regardless of the type of aquatic resource, or in some cases multiple types, that parks and rec maintenance departments care for, spring is the time to evaluate their condition and prepare for summer.

Many times, specialized aquatic-facility maintenance calls for advice or intervention from professionals in the field, so if you have any ideas, tips, or aquatic maintenance stories you’d like to share, write the PRB editor or me, and we’ll make sure everyone sees the suggestions in the magazine or online.

Randy Gaddo served for 15 years as a director in municipal parks and recreation after retiring from 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He developed, wrote, administered, and presented maintenance plans as well as recreation master plans during that time. Gaddo earned his Master’s in Public Administration and now lives in Peachtree City, Ga. He can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email

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