The importance of water in a pond

You know, the last thing you want to see when looking out the window at your pond, is that it’s nearly empty! But that’s exactly what I discovered recently. Talk about your adrenaline rush.

How could this happen, you ask? Well, first we got a whole bunch of snow. Then we had several visits by the “polar vortex” and — before we knew it — it was impossible to even see where the pond was.

pondOrdinarily, we prepare the pond for winter by diverting the water from the waterfall (where it can freeze) and sending the water right back into the pond. The submersible pump sits about 8 inches off the bottom. We like to keep the pump running all winter so there’s always an opening in the ice, to help oxygenate the water. 

The other thing we normally do is place a water heater on the surface of the pond to further ensure the surface stays open.

You’ll notice I’ve said “ordinarily” and “normally,” right? I guess Bill thought I did these things last fall, and I thought he did! Once the snowstorms started arriving, it was a done deal.

OK, back to the scene a few days ago: there I was, casually glancing toward the pond (which is about 80 feet from the house) out of my office window. And suddenly I thought, “wait a sec, something’s not right.”

I grabbed the binoculars and discovered that the huge sheet of ice that had been covering the pond (UNDER the layer of snow) had collapsed down into the pond, which had drained down to about a foot deep (out of 3 feet). Aieee!

pondWhat happened next, after a bit of swearing on my part, is a blur. I had to shovel in front of the door to my greenhouse so I could get it open and retrieve a couple of hoses. Then wade through the knee-deep snow — which has a crust on it so I kept falling through it with every step — while dragging the hoses.

I attached them to the hose bib on our house (the only place where the outside water isn’t turned off) and slowly got the hose close enough to the pond to start refilling it. But, before I could turn the water on, I decided to unplug the pump (which had burned out by this time, of course… sigh). The only problem is, the snow was so deep, I couldn’t find the power outlet! More shoveling before I finally found it and unplugged the pump. Whew.

Once I turned on the water, it took about 3 hours to refill the pond which holds 3,000 gallons.

I haven’t seen any of the fish yet, which I’m hoping are just burrowed into the muck at the bottom (something they tend to do this time of year). I sure hope they’re OK. We have a few Koi carp (most notably “Spot” and “Moby”) and lots of goldfish. I would feel terrible if they became victims of our unintentional cryogenics experiment!

There are also several huge pots of water lilies in the pond and I’m hoping they were dormant enough to tolerate the frozen soil and exposure to subzero temperatures.

So now you know what my silly headline above is all about! Here’s hoping everything will be OK… well, once we replace the pump, that is.

P.S. You’d better believe I’ve written notes on our calendar to remind us to move the waterfall hose and put the heater into the pond on December 1st! Lesson learned.