Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to be able to have a quality pond, lake or stream?
Each site is unique in its qualities and requirements. Most of the time our ponds and lakes only need roughly 20 gallons per minute of water flowing into them per acre of surface area. In other words, you can have trophy size fish in a pond with only a garden hose for a water supply! Usually this amount of water is only required during the heat of summer. Winter requirements are much lower. This is much less water than most people assume is necessary. The proprietary techniques we employ were designed from the need for more habitat on less water resource. While we can design for lower flow rates, we prefer not to do so because the measures we have to take result in a somewhat less aesthetically pleasing habitat.
Water for a pond or lake may come from a variety of clean water sources such as springs, wells, streams and even surface runoff. A large proportion of new ponds are now using well water to support them. Our efficient use of water minimizes water supply cost in these cases. Land is usually much less expensive when there is no stream or spring, which requires a well to support the aquatic habitat.
How can Spring Creek help me if I am far away?
Due to the effectiveness of our proprietary techniques, we design projects across North America. The principles of aquatic habitat management are universal; our techniques are not. Our methods work wherever you live. On smaller projects we can easily work from video tapes and phone conversations. Larger projects are more efficiently managed on site since small adjustments can save much more construction expense than the travel costs. We have gained a great deal of experience from western Oregon and California ponds that are quite technically challenging due to dry summers (most all of our rain comes in winter) and rich muddy soils. If we can turn a mucky Oregon pond that usually produces 1.5 pound fish into a clear water pond that grows trout of five pounds and up - all without feeding - we can do the same for you. Our experience has been that most areas are more conducive to building this type of habitat. If for some reason we do not believe our techniques will perform well in your area, we will decline the project. Our reputation for success is much more important than any lost opportunities.
We are blessed with a diverse environment here in a state which gains much of its reputation for unending rain. These diverse environments have sharpened our abilities as Biologists. Oregon actually has habitat types that are similar to most areas of the country. We work in coastal areas that never seem to see the sun, hot dry inland valleys which are brown most of the year, alpine settings with prodigious snow packs, and high desert environments that challenge all aquatic life forms. We use ideas from all of these diverse habitat types to create your habitat. We also use techniques we learned by designing projects in places like Maine, Georgia, Texas, Indiana, Montana, California and many other states and Canada. Chances are that we have already been in your area.
If we only had experience in one type of local or regional habitat, our expertise would suffer. This is probably the reason we get the call when other people say "it can't be done". We get excited not when we land some large project, but when we get a very difficult project. This gives us the opportunity to learn and grow, to develop new techniques which no one else has ever employed.
While we thoroughly enjoy working in places like the Rocky Mountain States of Montana, Colorado and Wyoming, we find these are some of the very easiest places to design habitat. Our goal in the Rocky Mountain states is to produce stronger and larger fish in a highly aesthetic and cost effective habitat, while using less water. Due to drought conditions we have recently been restoring poorly designed habitats in the Rockies to get more habitat on the reduced water supplies. If we only worked in these less challenging areas, our abilities would suffer. What really catches our attention are the difficult projects in places like Georgia and the Midwest where people don't believe it is possible to develop trophy size trout in smaller ponds without feeding the fish. If we are successful in these areas, think of what we can offer in places like Colorado and Montana!
Are we the best Biologists for aquatic habitat design and restoration? We don't know if there is one real "best". What we do know is we often get the call to come in and fix habitat that was designed by people who claim to be "the leader" in this field. We are not sure if this makes us the best, but it is pretty reassuring to our capabilities.
Empty phrases such as "recognized industry leader", "world class" and "gold medal fisheries" don't really impress us; the environment and the fish impress us.
Do I really need a Biologist to design my pond, lake or stream?
The answer to this question depends on your goals. If you simply want to store water with little interest in aesthetics, recreation, property value or fish, then we suggest you find a qualified contractor to dig your pond. On the other hand, if you are looking for the perfect recreational or aesthetic pond, lake or stream, then you are in the right place.
There is a wealth of publications to help you build a pond to safely hold water. While these publications are a good place to begin, they cover only a very small portion of the factors that go into producing the quality habitats we are known for. If you are satisfied with investing your money to build a lake of the same quality and value of other lakes in your vicinity, then you do not need our help. If you are motivated to get the best emotional and financial return for your investment, we can help.
There are many businesses that will design and build a pond for you. Thousands of people claim to be "professionals". Our definition of a professional is much more rigorous than most. Simply taking money to build a pond does not make one a professional, no matter how many years of experience is claimed. Advanced knowledge of aquatic ecology, chemistry, physics and construction methods is required to become a true professional at Spring Creek.
Thousands of terrestrial landscape designers and landscape contractors advertise to design ponds and streams. Most do not realize an aquatic habitat requires a three dimensional design instead of the more two dimensional terrestrial landscape. In a lake, the water becomes the soil. This opens a Pandora's box of complexity that does not have to be considered on dry land. We focus on these complexities to deliver the Spring Creek quality.
If you need to evaluate the qualifications of a habitat designer, look at the number of technical crutches they use. If they have to rely upon filters, skimmers, sterilizers, additives and chemicals, they are attempting to compensate for lack of scientific knowledge. You have to pay the direct price for these crutches as well as the significant maintenance expense associated with them. Chances are there is a huge warehouse of plumbing parts that support their "natural" methods. Obviously we see these crutches as less than desirable. Naturally functioning habitats need none of these crutches.
Our true professionalism may be the main reason that much of our work comes from referrals by Landscape Architects and other landscape design professionals. We have been brought into projects by some of the finest Landscape Architecture firms in the nation. Why would they ask for our help? Because they know the quality of our work and how exceptional aquatic and terrestrial landscapes compliment each other. They know our designs make their terrestrial designs look better, as theirs do for our aquatic designs. A glass clear lake simply looks better reflecting against a naturally flowing landscape instead of the usual unattractive pile of rocks, or worse yet, mounds of barkdust one sees along the shorelines of many projects.
The decision of who should design or build your pond, lake, or water feature ultimately comes down to your goals. If you are satisfied with murky water with visibility of only a few feet, or a contrived unnatural looking water feature, find out who the designer was and hire them. If you are more interested in a very aesthetic natural habitat, we can help.
How many years should lakes and ponds last?
Well designed man-made ponds should last for centuries. The reality for poorly designed ponds can be less than ten years due to factors such as siltation and excessive residual nutrients. We expect our lakes and ponds to be going strong for generations to come. We design them to become a lasting legacy to be handed down for many generations.
Synthetic lake and pond liner life expectancies run a couple decades. We do not agree with the idea of a pond needing to be rebuilt after just a couple decades. Regardless of the life expectancy of a synthetic liner, many of these ponds are experiencing siltation and choking with weeds long before the liner wears out. It isn't unusual for one of these poorly designed ponds to choke out with weeds in as little as five years. We know because we get the call to fix them. In most cases we rip them out and restore them for the long term. To be fair, poorly designed earthen ponds can expect similar life expectancy, even if the clay seal will function for centuries.
For lower construction budgets we could design and build lakes and ponds that would stay clear for just a few years before deteriorating, but we don't. We do not see that as providing valuable service to our clients. It is our hope that people will not allow themselves to be taken in by firms who lack the ability to design for the long term and ultimate value.
We've evaluated numerous existing lakes on property our clients were considering purchasing. It is easy for us to see if the project was well designed or if it was built "on-the-cheap" just to last long enough to take advantage of the unsuspecting buyer. There are innumerable people who have been taken in by poorly designed lakes and ponds in housing developments. These waters eventually become serious burdens for the home owners associations. If you are considering purchasing property in a waterfront development, we strongly urge you to ask who designed the man-made lakes, ponds and streams. Then research the pond / lake designers to see if they have a reputation for long lived water bodies that maintain the elements you value in waterfront property. We have heard too many nightmares from home owners associations who inherited liabilities instead of the wonderful lake they had hoped would improve their property investment. Beware of the developer who simply pushes up a dam in a low area, then attempts to verbally embelish an aquatic eyesore.
To put all of this in perspective, we don't believe most people would buy a home if they only expected it to stand for twenty years. Lakes and ponds should also withstand the test of time. A long life expectancy results in significant property value appreciation. A short life expectancy actually depreciates.
What does all of this cost?
Our services are a very sound investment instead of a cost, especially considering the money you save by taking advantage of our experience and efficient construction methods. Our fees are similar to what a Landscape Architect would charge. If we don't believe we can give you a better habitat value, we will tell you. For instance, if you want a muddy pond to water livestock, you don't need our help. If your dream is an aesthetically beautiful and natural aquatic habitat with low maintenance, we can get you to your goal. Compared to the actual cost of constructing a pond, our fees become a small portion of your habitat investment. We help you save money on the larger end of the scale: the excavation and maintenance of your aquatic habitat. See more on our Lake and Pond Construction Costs page.
Spring Creek works for you not only as resource professionals, but as your professional advocate to get the most out of your investment in planning, design, construction, and management of your pond, lake or stream.
We just dug our pond. Can you make it perfect now?
Creating a high quality lake or pond begins with design. Yes we can improve your pond, but you can expect to have to drain the pond and make major modifications to what you have installed. Much of our business comes from redesigning and rebuilding new ponds that were not efficiently designed. If you are thinking of building a new stream, pond or lake, talk to us before you break ground.
Can Spring Creek help me find land for my pond or lake?
Absolutely. We help people evaluate property for their stream, pond or lake. Once they locate the best land, they often realize construction savings in excess of 80%. This has translated into conservative savings of well over $20,000 per acre of water for some people. If you are in the market for land, you are very aware that land with water already on it is much more valuable than dry land. If you identify the right piece of land where you can develop a high quality lake or pond, you have made a very sound financial as well as emotional investment. Professionally designed aquatic habitats bring a higher value to the property. Visit the waterfront property and lake property investment guide for ideas on where to start looking. Then consider our consulting service to assist your waterfront real estate search. Visit our waterfront property page to see a few of the quality lake or pond properties we have identified.
Can I have trophy trout habitat without buying land in a far off place like the Rockies?
Absolutely. A considerable portion of our business comes from people who want to enjoy the benefits of the famous fishing destinations without the expense and inconvenience of travel, or the purchase of high value recreation property. They want a trophy fishing experience right out their backdoor so they can enjoy these environments on a daily basis. One of the cornerstones of our proprietary techniques is to make it possible for more people to enjoy these habitats at home or even at their offices. Bringing a bit of "vacation" into our daily lives makes perfect sense to us - maybe that's why we work as Biologists in the first place.
What if I own waterfront property on a larger lake?
We use the same principles and slightly different techniques to improve the habitat on your portion of the lake, river or stream. It is possible to attract the best fish in the lake to within casting distance of your portion of the shoreline. In many unproductive lakes there are still a few large fish; we can design habitat that will encourage these fish to spend more time near your shoreline to improve your enjoyment of the property. These techniques also improve the habitat of the lake or river as a whole.
What is the financial value of a pond or lake?
This is a pretty wide open question. On a qualitative scale, the highest value habitats have several features in common:
1) they have clear water
2) they do not choke with weeds
3) they require very little to maintain
4) they are biologically and chemically clean enough for swimming
5) trophy size fish live in them.
6) they are very aesthetically pleasing
7) they look completely natural
The value of these attributes varies across the country. We estimate that a nearly perfect pond with these qualities is probably going to bring at least several times more value to the property than the average pond. Conservatively estimating, the value of the pond will be on the order of three or more times the value of a typical pond. The more exotic and aesthetic, the higher the value. A trophy trout pond in the south where most people do not believe it is even possible, is going to bring a great deal of value to the land. Likewise a project in urban Los Angeles will return great value. Even in the middle of prime fish habitat, a well designed project is going to be worth significantly more than the usual lake or pond. We have estimated our value from the usual areas for ponds and not the unlikely locations such as Los Angeles where values are orders of magnitude higher.
Ultimately the value of a pond, lake or stream will be dictated by its owner. You simply have to ask yourself what it is worth to step out your back door on a daily basis and have an excellent chance of hooking into a six pound trout in a pristine aquatic habitat. Most people never get that opportunity. That is the real value!
Does Spring Creek work with habitats other than trout lakes, ponds and streams?
Yes, we have worked with many types of ponds lakes and streams such as warmwater fish ponds, bass lakes, garden ponds, swimming ponds, duck ponds, golf course water features, and ornamental fish ponds. Most of the stream work we perform is with trout streams, but we also design landscape streams for housing complexes, offices and homes. Our experience spans the spectrum from trout lakes in Canada to an indoor/outdoor pond on a Caribbean island. This breadth of experience provides us with a wealth of insight to solve challenges in your aquatic habitat.
We emphasize our experience with trout since this is our origin and trout habitat is more complicated to design and build than other aquatic habitats.
CLICK HERE for our technical FAQs including pond construction costs, leaks and other challenges.
We look forward to discussing the possibilities of bringing your water to life!