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Is This a Lake or a Pond and What's the Difference?

Is This a Lake or a Pond and What's the Difference?

If you have been selling waterfront properties in the lakes region for any length of time, you have been asked this question often. Surprisingly, there is no definite answer, as the difference between lakes and ponds can best be defined as arbitrary.Squam Lake Real Estate

Many think that lakes are deeper and larger than ponds. That is not always the case. Often the term lake or pond was given to a waterbody by early settlers and it had nothing to do with size. In later years "ponds" became "lakes" to make them more attractive real estate investments.

In terms of limnology (the study of inland waters) scientists have tried to categorize lakes and ponds, and although there is disagreement amongst them (surprise) there is some agreement among two characteristics which separate the two. In general, "deep" lakes and ponds are waterbodies that are deep enough in some spots so that sunlight cannot penetrate to the bottom and while there may be plants around the edges there will not be emergent plants in the deep areas. Also, the water will stratify into 3 temperature layers; warm, cold and a middle layer which undergoes temperature changes. To some, this category defines a lake. A "shallow" lake or pond is shallow enough that sunlight can shine through to the bottom supporting emergent plants throughout the waterbody. There may also be mucky sediment at the bottom. Also, this waterbody will have only one or two layers of water temperature. To some, this category defines a pond.

For further discussion or to learn more about the 200+ lakes and ponds in the lakes region, please call Paula Hinckley 603-566-6608.

Information for this article was taken from NH DES Environmental Fact Sheet BB-49 and by permission from Andrea LaMoreaux's article "What IS the difference between a lake and a pond?" (NH Lakes Assn.)

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