#30: PermaCyclers and the Penn State Altoona Campus, a solution for Lakes and Ponds

 In Lakes and Ponds, PermaCyclers

#30: PermaCyclers and the Penn State Altoona Campus, a solution for Lakes and Ponds


Hi, Colin Lennox here with EcoIslands LLC. We’re over at the Penn State Altoona Campus. Actually grew up on this campus, these are pathways I’ve been walking my entire life.

But the pond… needs some love.  There is a lot of sediment and nutrients; I can speak from seeing the science [data] that there is also a lot of fecal coliforms or “you know what” in the water.

Why, what happened here?  Essentially there is not enough flow in the system.  There are too many nutrients going into essentially what is a bathtub.  That’s what it [the pond] was originally built for, it was a warming pond for a lake so it’s no surprise.  But now we want it to look good and be healthy.

So one of the other major issues is that it doesn’t have any kind of wetland.  Like i said, its literally a concrete liner, essentially a bathtub with a clay bottom.  So the water quality is really poor.       

Things that you can do, how do you make this a better system?  Well, you can get the water moving, that’s one thing, [and] pumps use lots of electricity.  You have to move it at a really high rate of flow and that doesn’t remove the sediment from the pond itself.  It’s about four feet deep with a foot and a half of sediment at the bottom of it. You got to get the sediment out of there.  And once again, there is no wetland. There is no means for accumulating that sediment in the water column.

The problem of too much nutrients and sediments in lakes is found across the country.  One potential solution is the PermaCycler, or the boxed wetland [for Lakes and Ponds].

That is something that I and my company, EcoIslands LLC, have been developing for now going on ten years for a whole host of applications, mining, methane production, a whole bunch of other things.  But what we want to focus on now is how to clean the lake that has entirely too much nutrients and sediment in the system, to put flow back into that system to allow it to cycle naturally but also be able to remove that material.

And, it is a pretty simple system at the heart of it.  You have essentially a very large box that functions as a wetland that screens out material and bioremediates the material, but we wont’ get into that now here, but that sediment and material going through the box is captured then able to be flushed out periodically every couple of days.  Now, that material has potential value, strong value, there are a lot of nutrients and minerals that are in that material which is great for putting on your garden, great for putting on agricultural settings, because that is where most of that sediment came from in the first place. [From] construction, farms, forests being cut down and all of that material being flushed into the waterways.  This gives you a way to get that material back.

So that is return on investment.  Doing some basic calculations we figured that one box running at 100 gallons per minute, with what is called one gram per liter of material, running all year round, gets somewhere around seven to ten tri-axle loads of material.  And if you run the rest of the numbers out you are anywhere five to six to seven thousand dollars a year in material per box which then works out to an ROI of six to eight years. So not only are you getting the pond clean you are digging it down deeper.  You are getting more oxygen throughout the entire profile. So instead of your critters hiding in certain areas, they can enjoy and grow and fill out the entire lake, and you can get that money back as well, so it actually pays for itself.

One of the issues that a lot of communities, lakes and ponds are seeing throughout the US, particularly in the summer when waters are the warmest, and you have very limited mixing of different water bodies, is toxic algae blooms.

Whether it be cyano-bacteria here in the North East or golden algae, say, in the American Southwest that produce different toxins that can kill fish and are straight up harmful to people.  If you even get the stuff on you, rashes, lord knows if you ingest any of this stuff, really, its not good on the outside, trust me its not good on the inside either.  

So being able to screen out that algae, once again [those] total suspended solids, not only is it removing algae, but there is some evidence that the PermaCycler will actually break down the cyano-toxins directly within the boxes, in our wetlands themselves, but you also increase the clarity of that lake which gives you the other benefits I’d spoken of earlier, greater [growth] of macrophytes, and its a pond or lake you’re going to want to go swimming in.  If you can see several feet down, then you’re in a really good spot.  

You’ve got…, hmmm, not this, essentially, where you’ve got about a foot of clarity down into this system.  All of those benefits, bragging rights…i don’t know if you really want to throw that one in there, you know “my pond is cleaner than your pond” and it paid for itself in seven years.

Of course one of the biggest benefits, if you love your pond and love to fish, the ability to clean up that algae, which in some cases will wipe out all of the fish, the American Southwest is a major issue, total fisheries being entirely wiped out by the golden algae comes out of too many nutrients, not enough mixing, no wetland, too much sediment, all those different combinations of impactors wipe out whole fisheries.

So if you have a lake or pond, are part of a watershed association with an impacted lake are pond, are a regulator, are a for profit business that has fisheries and this is how you make your money, give us a call we have the solutions, and they didn’t exist before hand. 

You can get information online at www.ecoislandsllc.com, once again my name is Colin Lennox, find me on there, you can send me an email, and, what [listens to Kyle off screen: what im sorry, i’m so bad at that]  Click the Link below, [ Kyle “easy easy easy”. Colin laughs at himself].

So if you are interested in our solutions, click the link below, give us a call, check out the website, follow our blog, facebook, instagram, linkdin, youtube, all the socials, we are all over all of them, And thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate the listen.  Colin Lennox, signing off.    

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