Private Ponds - Frequently Asked Questions


How can I manage plants, algae, or cyanobacteria in my private pond?


Plants, algae, and cyanobacteria are important components of a healthy pond. Before planning to remove plants, review the information in the Lake and Ponds Plants Booklet. This guide provides information on the benefits of aquatic plants, tips for identifying nuisance or invasive plant growth, and strategies to manage nuisance growth of plants or algae. Additional information regarding the management of aquatic invasive species is available on our website.

There are several considerations that should be made by a landowner before pursuing aquatic plant management in a private pond, including:

  1. How will the removal of aquatic plants impact algae or cyanobacteria growth in my pond?

Aquatic plants play an important role in storing nutrients, like phosphorus in the pond, and in providing shade, cooling the water temperatures. The removal of all aquatic plants may provide an ideal environment for increased algae or cyanobacteria growth.

2.  Is the private pond also a wetland that is jurisdictional to the Vermont Wetlands Rules?

Vermont Wetland Rules apply to many Vermont ponds. Any activity that is not identified as an “Allowed Use,” will need to be reviewed by the Wetlands Program. See Wetlands Guidance Section 6.14  Best Management Practices for Pond Maintenance for more information.

3.  Does the proposed plant management activity require an Aquatic Nuisance Control permit?

There are several options available for managing nuisance aquatic plants, some of which require permitting under Aquatic Nuisance Control. All herbicide applications require authorization under Aquatic Nuisance Control Permitting. 

4.  What is the best strategy to meet my pond management goals?

It is important to look at the land area around the pond to understand problems in the pond. For example, maintaining natural vegetation in and around the pond will help reduce erosion and pollution caused by stormwater runoff.  Understanding the characteristics of the pond located on your property will help plan for long-term management. For more information on lake and pond friendly land management practices, visit the Lake Wise webpages

My pond is filling in, can I dredge out the material in my pond?


Dredging in ponds may require authorization under the Vermont Wetland Rules (See Section 6.14 Best Management Practices for Pond Maintenance). If the activity is an “Allowed Use” described in the guidance document, authorization is not needed, please contact the Wetlands Program with any questions.

Dredging may also require authorization from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers regulates construction in navigable waterways and has authority over the discharge of dredged or fill material. Depending on size and ownership of the pond, a Lake Encroachment Permit may be required. If a pond is less than 20 acres and is located entirely on one parcel, then no Lake Encroachment Authorization would be required. 

Dredged (removed) material needs to be placed in a dry upland area at least 50 feet away from surface waters. It is important to remember that dredged material cannot be discharged to a water body, wetland, or wetland buffer. To protect water quality, and for and obvious safety reasons, keep heavy machinery out of the water.

Can you help me identify the plants, algae, and cyanobacteria in my pond?


For identifying plants, please use A Key to Common Vermont Aquatic Plants. For identifying algae, please use the Field Guide to Algae and Other “Scum.” If you are not able to identify the species, you can send a photo to  or you can send the specimen to: 

Agency of Natural Resources: Watershed Management Division
Davis Building – 3rd Floor
1 National Life Dr. 
Montpelier, VT 05620-3522
Attn: Kimberly Jensen

Can you recommend a contractor to help manage my pond?


The State of Vermont cannot recommend contractors. It may be best to contact local businesses, like hardware stores and builders, etc. for local contractor recommendations. Please refer any contactor to these guidance pages so they understand the guidelines and regulations regarding private pond management.

Can I stock my pond with fish?


Fish may be stocked in a private pond if the water source for the pond is located entirely on one property and the fish will not have access to other waters. Maintaining a healthy habitat for fish can be complicated. For details on stocking and maintaining fish in your pond, please visit the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department page for Managing Your Pond.

I am interested in constructing a pond on my property. What permits are needed before beginning work?


There are many regulatory considerations to address before constructing a private pond. Please review this comprehensive list that includes information concerning federal, state, and local regulations and guidance. 

Can I add herbicide or other chemicals to my private pond to control plants or algae?


All herbicide applications require authorization under Aquatic Nuisance Control Permitting. Other chemicals and algaecides may require authorization. Please reach out to the Aquatic Nuisance Control Program for more information. Be aware that pond management products sold in Vermont and online may also require a permit.

What water quality tests should I do in my pond?


Many water quality tests are available and testing can quickly become expensive. Before undertaking any testing, it’s important to identify a goal or outcome that you wish to achieve. Check with a knowledgeable contractor or laboratory to understand which tests provide information that supports your goal. They will also tell you exactly how to collect the sample and typically supply the containers you’ll need.

Will the Department of Environmental Conservation visit my private pond?


Unfortunately, the VT DEC does not have the resources to visit private ponds unless there is a regulatory issue or permitting is required. We can provide guidance and resources via email or telephone, however, we cannot assist with the development of a testing or maintenance plan for your pond.

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