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Owning Land

The True Value of Lakes and Ponds

September 1, 2017

As an owner of a lake management company, I am blessed to frequent many beautiful properties that have lakes or ponds. Some are in suburban settings, others are part of larger landscapes that include timber and wildlife. Very seldom do I encounter a lake that doesn’t have a cabin, house, lodge or a gathering spot as simple as a dock. Why is that? There is something that draws us to water. For many, the opportunity to relax while overlooking a beautiful lake or pond is not unlike why many of us seek a lounge chair on the white sands of a quiet beach.

Simply put, water adds value to experiences. Market value may be a derivative of actual sales, but one major component of land value is often overlooked: past, present, and future experiences.

Think of a special experience you’ve had while enjoying the outdoors. While many of us perch solo in deer stands or do our morning exercise alone, our most memorable experiences involve family and friends. Couple these experiences with a lake or pond and value is added to the land.

The added value of a lake or pond can come in many forms. For some, just the view of quiet waters while enjoying a morning coffee and the sunrise is tops. The shout of a grandchild as they bound off the end of the dock on a summer day. Holding that 10-pound bass. Teaching your kids how to handle a canoe… including how to climb back in! Paddling your dad around as he works the flyrod. That perfect fire in the firepot as the sun sets and the wood ducks come to roost. Watching the bobber for your grandson’s first fish. Any memories come to mind?

When looking at property with water, think of the possibilities. As with landscape, a lake or pond can often be managed to make those possibilities come to life. And therein lies the value.

To create your perfect pond or lake experience, you should start by reviewing your property with an experienced lake management professional. Key areas to consider include the following:

  • Historic information – Is there any historic information on annual lake-level fluctuation?
  • Lake basin integrity – Dam and water control structure inspection, water source. Depths, average depth. Are there any erosion issues or structure leaks?
  • Water quality – If a quality fishery is desired, check water quality to insure productivity can be maintained. Will depths and the watershed affect annual water quality?
  • Aquatic plants and algae – Survey aquatic plants and algae that are present to determine future management needs. Are invasive aquatic plants present?
  • Fish population – Performing a fish population assessment is typically accomplished with electrofishing gear designed to collect a representative sample of the fish population. Evaluate fish habitat as well during the survey. Does the fish population or habitat need management based on end goals?

Having data and information on these important metrics will allow you to explore all the management options your lake or pond will support.  The most important part is determining your goals- the exciting part! Based on your goals, a specific management approach can be developed and implemented on your timeline.

Investing in this approach will save you time and resources in the long run, thus providing added value and experiences for you and your family.

This guest post is courtesy of Wade Bales, owner of Quality Lakes Inc., a full-service lake management company in Bluffton, SC. For more information, visit

About the Author
Wade Bales owns Quality Lakes Inc., a full-service lake management company. Wade holds a B.S. and M.S. in Fisheries Management from Auburn University and has over 20 years of experience in developing, promoting, and managing recreational lakes and ponds. While managing fish and maintaining lakes is his primary focus, people are often the larger component of lake-based projects. Identifying achievable goals and balancing expectations among and across a variety of lake owners has afforded the Quality Lakes team much experience in growing land value and experiential value. Wade lives in Bluffton, SC with his wife and four children where they enjoy fishing, hunting, traveling, and generally any activity around water!