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Complete Due Diligence Before Pumping Water From Streams

Sand bass stocked in a small pond when water was pumped from a creek to the pond.

When working with Nature, you anticipate the unexpected.  After so long, you find yourself reciting Murphy’s Law.  Here’s an example.

A friend was visiting a friend who caught a fish that was not stocked in his pond.  We hear that often.  The species in question is what made this story different.  In most cases, when spillways flow during flood events, common bluegill, bass, crappie, catfish, and minnows wash downstream to other ponds in the watershed.  What made this story different, the surprise visitor was a sand bass.  So much for conventional wisdom.

Now, they had our attention. Where is the pond and when was it stocked?  It’s near so and so creek and stocked one-year ago.  The light bulb started flickering.  Makes sense.  The pond overflowed into the creek and the fish swam up to the pond.  Just as we were about to high-five, they said the pond didn’t flow into that creek.  But that creek is the only secondary water source in the area.

After interrogating our friend 30 more minutes, we were still on square one.  In one last effort, we asked if the landowner ever irrigated from the creek.  The friend said, “No, but he pumped water from the creek to finish filling the pond. His fish was 8-inches.  It couldn’t come up the four-inch hose.”   If we’d been beside the creek, we’d have thrown our friend in.  The fish likely was drafted as a fingerling and grew 8-inches during the past year.   Further research revealed the in-take line was not covered with screening to prevent such an occurrence.

Moral of the story, before pumping from a stream, please inquire about permit regulations.  Research water quality history and conduct standard testing.  We heard about a property owner who pumped water from a nearby river into his pond.  Within a short time, golden algae killed his fish.  If due diligence indicates pumping is safe, please install sturdy, fine screening on the draft side to prevent picking-up unwanted aquatic plants and/or animals.

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