Art vs Science When Managing Lakes & Ponds

By Patrick Goodwin, Certified Lake Manager and Aquatic Research Scientist

Why should you use science when managing lakes? You might have heard the saying; lake management is 90% art and 10% science. There seems to be a lot of truth to this statement. Many decisions and recommendations for lakes and ponds are made by intuition, prior experience, or observations rather than hard science.

The best lake management decisions use scientific data

scientific testingThe framework that allows scientists to make good decisions, is known as data driven decision making (DDDM). DDDM is a process of developing decisions and goals. These goals are reinforced by hard data rather than surface-level observation or intuition.

The more we follow the DDDM process in lake management, the more confident our decision will be. The lake management industry has come a long way in developing diagnostics that directly improve decision making. Like every other science, all lake management decisions can be tied back to data. The two approaches have largely different management plans to treat a lake said to contain harmful algae blooms (HAB’s).

Artistic – start throwing restoration tools (i.e., algaecides, aeration, bacteria, alum, etc.) at the lake until the lake manager observed some level of “success.”


Both approaches can theoretically solve the HAB issue at hand. However, the artistic approach has more risk because the tools used may or may not work. Because the decision is based on data, the DDDM approach has far less risk.

Everyone Wants Value for Their Money

When the artistic approach works, the cost is relatively lower. But, when it doesn’t work, money is wasted and clients feel betrayed and move on.lake data science method

No doubt about it, the DDDM approach costs more on the front end and takes a bit longer to determine the best solutions. But it is important to keep in mind that the DDDM is just a process not a set procedure.

The level of DDDM, and therefore the cost depends on

Lake and Pond Data Science Experts on Demand

A certified, trained, and experienced individual consultant or consulting team is not needed for every pond or lake. But for difficult to manage waterbodies it makes a huge difference on your ability to get and keep long-term clients. Any data collected for decision making should have a clear management purpose or bring direct management utility. If you don’t have the means to retain an expert on staff, you have the option to hire ours as needed. Our lake management research specialists will know exactly what data should be collected to address the issue at hand and be able to work with you to stay within the client’s budget.

In the end, solutions that bring high level results without wasting money or time fosters long-term client relationships. That should be the goal of every lake manager.

Talk with our experts to learn more


About Patrick Goodwin
Patrick GoodwinPatrick earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and a Master of Science in Lake Management from the University of New York, SUNY – Oneonta. Patrick is an elite NALMS Certified Lake Manager. He is a lead researcher and a recognized national authority on sustainable lake restoration technology. His specialties include nutrient reduction, water quality improvement, lake aeration design and cyanobacteria management. He has been on the Florida Lake Management Society Board (FLMS) and a member since 2015. In addition, he is on the Student Committee for the Midwest Aquatic Plant Management Society (MAPMS), as well as nine other prestigious aquatic plant and lake management organizations in the country. Patrick has presented research or conducted training relating to sustainable lake management technology for multiple organizations at their annual conferences.

Vertex Aquatic Solutions, founded in 1977, is the professionals’ choice for research based scientific consulting services, aeration systems, floating fountains, bubble curtains and biological products to enhance water quality in lakes, ponds, canals, marinas and reservoirs. As respected leaders in the lake management industry the Vertex team of aquatic biologists, limnologists, fisheries scientists and engineers work together to deliver science-based, environmentally sound solutions to complex waterbody issues. Our products and services are delivered through an international network of qualified, experienced waterbody professionals who provide local support, service and pond management expertise to customers.

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