U.S. Water News Online
OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. -- Fat game fish break the pond's
surface soon after Jim Crouch casts handfuls of food pellets on the
Monster catfish, crappie, and bass dwell in the 25-foot depths of
the 11/4-acre pond behind his home. The water is clear and
``If you have a pond and you want it to be a healthy pond, you
have to aerate it in some way, shape or form,'' says Crouch, a
retired UPS driver who's developed a new business out of thin air.
Crouch sells windmills.
Windmills once were as common in rural America as barns, but most
still standing are monuments to a bygone lifestyle -- a time when
windmills were needed to pump water from the ground to irrigate
cattle, crops and people.
Now they seem to be making a comeback.
Water-pumping windmills still can be had, but Crouch is selling
air-pumping windmills to help country-dwellers keep healthy oxygen
levels in their fish ponds and swimming holes.
One stands near the edge of his pond, its spinning prop a blur in
an 18 mph breeze. Out in the middle of the pond, air bubbling up from
beneath the surface breaks the wavelets caused by surface wind.
After installing his own windmill about five years ago, Crouch
started Windmill's Pond Aeration, selling and installing kits made by
Koenders Windmills Inc., a Saskatchewan firm.
Business truly has been brisk. He started slow but the business
has grown and he now he's selling more than 100 a year, mainly in
southern Michigan and northern Ohio.
Each windmill comes with a mechanical air compressor that is spun
by a 6-foot-diameter, 12-blade propeller, directed into the wind by
metal ``tail feathers.''
``All you need is a 5 mph wind to make 35 pounds of air
pressure,'' Crouch explains. The compressed air is fed down a plastic
tube leading to an air stone that diffuses the oxygen at the bottom
of the pond -- an arrangement that's much like an aquarium but on a
much larger scale.
The air circulates the stagnant bottom water, helps break down
plant and animal waste and promotes zooplankton that consumes
unwanted algae, Crouch says. Results are noticeable within two weeks
of starting the operation.
``It's amazing how much it will clear up a dirty pond,'' says Bart
Sarkisian, who helps Crouch build and install the windmills.
``The nice thing about it is you're not putting money into it all
the time,'' Crouch says.
The windmills are designed to be used in place of the oil-less
electric compressors that many pond operators have. Though
compressors can chew up $35 to $40 monthly in electricity, the
windmills use only wind power, Crouch says.
Crouch supplies 12-, 16- or 20-foot towers for the windmills. The
kits are mainly galvanized steel and are anchored to the ground with
a combination of steel rods and concrete.
Customers can assemble and erect the windmills themselves -- it's
a 12-to-15-hour job -- or hire Crouch to put them up.
Prices for the do-it-yourselfer range from $750 to $850, depending
on the size. If Crouch assembles, delivers and installs one, it can
tack on another $375 to $550.
Jack Sturn of Monroe bought a 20-foot model about a year ago for
his 1-to-2-acre pond. ``We've never had a problem before, but I do
have fish in it,'' he says.
``So far, I'm real happy with it,'' he said. ``People come in and
see it and I'm really surprised how much people pay attention to
He said he disconnects it in the winter because children skate on
the pond and the air stone will keep ice from forming.
``It'll keep a 12-foot circle of water open in the wintertime,''
Crouch explained, but that also benefits the pond by allowing more
sunlight in, allowing gases to escape and keeping the water
oxygen-rich despite most of the ice cover.
There's also an aesthetic advantage.
``It's a nice-looking piece of equipment sitting out there.''
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.