Keeping local ponds, lakes, and rivers "healthy" is a full-time proposition for Bulloch County resident Kelly Dabbs.
Founded in 2008, Dabbs' company Southern Aquatic Services provides water quality analysis, weed identification and control, pond clean-up, pond stocking, pond fertilization, as well as monthly habitat monitoring to its clients.
"Most ponds and lakes benefit from being 'maintained'," Dabbs said. "They are susceptible to the growth of weeds which have to be removed, because they can literally choke the pond or lake. Also, you have to look at the ph balance and alkalinity of the lake or pond. That also has a dramatic effect on its health."
Dabbs has two full-time and two part-time employees to help with the maintenance of the 35 bodies of water that he is contracted to take care of.
"We go out every month to determine what is needed," he said. "There is a seasonality to what we do. During the time of the year when the temperature of the water exceeds 65 degrees, we are very, very busy. In this climate, our down time is usually about three months in the dead of the winter."
Dabbs has an array of 'interesting' clients including the Georgia Southern Center for Wildlife Education. Pam Harley serves as business manger for the center.
"We have two ponds that were built on the property when we expanded the wildlife center in 2009," she said. "Kelly opened his company at just about the same time the expansion was being constructed. We contracted with him, and he does an amazing job. He goes beyond the call of duty, and there are times that I feel like we are getting more than we are paying for."
Harley said the center maintains a collection of water fowl that are dependent upon the animal life living in the ponds.
"It is very important that the food sources for the water fowl are healthy and vibrant," she said. "In essence, Kelly is maintaining the health of an animal collection for us by keeping the ponds where they need to be."
Kim Edge is the co-owner of Edge Fish Farm in Soperton. Edge raises fish to stock ponds and lakes including trout, minnows, shad, bass, bream, and catfish.
"I don't know that very many people realize that Kelly has a chemistry degree," she said. "He does a very good job, and is so good with people. We are a supplier to many of his clients, and are glad to work with him."
Dabbs said he decided to open his company after conversations with the local County Extension Service.
"In consulting with the Extension Service on different issues dealing with ponds, they told me that they were really unable to provide the level of service that pond owners were requesting," he said. "I realized there was a need in this area, and so I founded my company. The Extension Service has been a great referral source."
Dabbs has been managing Mike Kittrell's pond for approximately three years. It is located in the Hopeulikit area.
"We were having a major problem with the plant Slender Spikerush which is vegetation that grows on top of other vegetation, and takes over the pond," Kittrell said. "We had considered draining the pond until Kelly came out and looked at it. He said the problem could be fixed without doing that, and he has fixed it. He removed the weed from the top of the water, and then dragged something along the bottom. It has been fine ever since. He really goes beyond what he is obligated to do. He is very, very good at his job."
Recently, Dabbs received certification in another field.
"You have to go through a lengthy process to be certified as a mold inspector," he said. "I have just completed the certification process, and have opened Southern Mold Services which tests for and analyzes mold found in commercial and residential properties. It is an extension of my chemistry background."