Help Lakes Have a Healthy Winter...Manage Bubblers
Ice damage to docks and boathouses normally occurs due to two circumstances. One is when cribbing is frozen and either a significant rain or melt causes the level of the lake and the ice to rise, causing the cribbing to move. Another is when the ice is starting to break up and large chunks are blown by the wind, slamming into docks and boathouses. Some lakefront owners have installed a bubbler to try to eliminate ice damage. The term “bubbler” includes de-icers, agitators and circulators. Improperly managed bubblers can be dangerous, expensive and harmful to the lake. A well managed bubbler limits the amount of open water and thin ice.
There are several reasons to properly manage bubblers:
• Safety: People and animals are on the lake in winter. Thin ice in an area opened by a bubbler is not always perceptible to humans, dogs or wildlife and becomes a serious hazard. Snowmobilers are at great risk.
• Structure: Constantly moving water shifts sediment and can undermine your dock’s cribbing.
• Money: Save on your electric bill. (The cost for running a small 1/2 HP motor is estimated at $42/month if left on continuously!) More importantly, avoid potential liability in case of an accident in open water created by your bubbler.
• Your Neighbors: Reduce noise, and do not affect the water in front of their property. They may like ice!
• Lake Ecosystem: Lakes need to rest in the winter. Use of bubblers can: stir up sediment; reduce summer water clarity; and allow more light in winter, potentially promoting growth of cyanobacteria, algae and more.
It is not difficult to efficiently manage bubblers:
• Use a timer. Your bubbler does not have to run 24/7 to protect your dock or boathouse.
• A timer with a thermostat further limits use so bubbler only operates when it is cold enough to freeze the water. This is available at Clarke’s Hardware and Watermark.
• Right-size your bubbler motor. Choose a system that will have just enough power to open only the water directly around your dock or boathouse.
• Turn on your bubbler only when the lake begins to freeze. Turn it off after ice out.
• Periodically check your bubbler for performance and safety. Conditions change during the winter.
And all bubblers require registration with your town office.
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