When Does a Pond Stop Being a Pond and Become a Lake in Michigan?
Pond life in Michigan is its own kind of existence. I have a friend who had one dug out in the shape of a 'P', the same first letter of his name. Ask him now after battling various species of invasive vegetation, faster than they should be watersnakes, den-burrowing muskrats, and he may tell you the 'P' stands for 'pain in the'...
The amount of work needed to maintain his private aquatic oasis was akin to what a lake association would have to do for its residents. Kill the weeds, stock the fish, manage the flow, secure the embankments, and the list goes on and on.
Differences Between a Pond Become a Lake in Michigan
Lakes and ponds are easy to confuse. They both start off as depressions in the ground that fill up with water, but while lakes exist year-round, some ponds are permanent and some aren't. Here are some ways to distinguish a pond from a lake in Michigan:
- Size Matters
- Ponds are typically smaller than lakes, but overall average doesn't make a lake. Fletcher Pond, Michigan's largest lake is 8,790 acres.
- Lakes are Deep
- Ponds have a depth that doesn't go beyond the sun's reach. This allows plant life to grow that you don't see throughout lakes since its depths can range anywhere from tens to thousands of feet deep.
- Plants Everywhere
- A pond will have plant life everywhere you turn because the sun's rays reach its every depth, making a pond a 'photic zone'.
- Temperature Consistency
- Since a pond is shallow enough to not only receive the sun's rays for plant growth, it also heats the entire body of water to the same temperature. A lake will have several different areas of temperature based on currents and depth
- Did That Pond Just Wave?
- Most ponds won't have waves. There are exceptions...looking at you Fletcher Pond.
There are some that consider whether or not the body of water was created naturally as a determining factor, but there are plenty of man-made lakes that are the exception to that rule. There are so MANY exceptions that finding one clear mark of distinction between a pond and a lake isn't easy.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a guide for those thinking about putting in their own body of water and how to best cultivate it. Whether you want to stock it up with fish or make an oasis for waterfowl, there are ways to get there and slew hoops to jump through.
Just make sure that whatever you build is still considered a pond and not a lake. That is unless you'd like to pay taxes on a lakefront home in Michigan. They do appraise for higher on average than a non-lake home.
It seems the easiest way to make the distinction is to determine the difference is based on whether or not the sun can reach the bottom. That's fine for the sun, The bottom of most ponds is muck or something that will give you icky toe, and no one likes icky toe.