Q: I think my pond is spring-fed. If I shut down my aeration system, will the pond freeze enough for me to skate?
Timothy – Newton, WI
A: Skating is a winter favorite for many people – and it’s even better when you’re doing it on your own pond or lake. Before we dive into answering your question, however, let’s go through the differences between a spring-fed pond and a catch basin pond.
Catch Basin or Spring Fed?
A catch basin pond is a reservoir filled with precipitation runoff from the surrounding area. The volume rises and falls depending on rainfall and snow melt; in the winter, when conditions are right and temperatures are below freezing, an unaerated pond like this makes a great skating rink.
A spring-fed pond, however, is fed by a spring or ground water. It keeps the pond’s water level fairly consistent, regardless of rainfall, but the moving water created by the spring could cause dangerous conditions – even if the aeration system is shut down for the season.
Stay Safe on the Ice
If you discover your pond is indeed fed by a spring and has constant water movement, follow these Ice Safety Tips before trying to use the ice rink for recreation:
- Wait for Extended Cold Temps: Spring-fed ponds will take longer to freeze, so be sure temperatures are below freezing for two to three weeks before testing the ice formation. Remember that wind and snow coverage will also affect ice formation and its integrity.
- Test Ice Thickness: Once you’ve given the water time to freeze and the ice time to form, the next step is to verify the ice sheet’s thickness. You can either drill or cut samples—but make sure you do so in multiple locations as you work your way toward the center of the pond as the water won’t necessarily freeze evenly.
- Stay Far from Moving Water: Water current and movement will also affect ice formation, so steer clear from any inflow and overflow areas where water movement will weaken the ice.
- Shut Off Aeration: Of course, plan to turn off your aeration system before the ice starts forming on your pond. The aerator will agitate the water, preventing it from forming into a solid, safe sheet of ice.
- Be Prepared: In case someone accidentally falls through the ice, don’t venture out on your own, and always make sure you have a life ring or floatation device within reach.
Winter recreation – skating, hockey, ice fishing and more! – is one of the joys of owning your own pond or lake, but always use common sense when venturing out. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Pond Talk: What winter sports do you enjoy on your frozen pond?