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Is it a Pond or a Lake?
So you have a great summer’s day planned, water, fishing, and swimming down at the old watering hole, sounds like a blast. But where are you going, are you going down to the pond or over to the lake? But wait a minute, you stop and think about it, and the pond and the lake are pretty similar. So what is the difference between a pond and a lake? There has to be some kind of difference, some kind of scientific mumbo-jumbo that separates the two!
No, in fact, there doesn’t have to be a difference, because technically there is no difference between a pond and a lake. They have the exact same legal and scientific descriptions. They are inland bodies of standing or barely moving water, natural or man-made, and they are completely surrounded by land. But there has to be some difference or they’d all be ponds or lakes, so what is it?
The only real agreed upon difference is that lakes tend to be larger and ponds tend to be smaller, but the problem is, there is no delineation, or exact size that constitutes the dividing line between what is a pond or what is a lake. There is no set definition that says 5 acres is a lake, anything less in surface size is a pond or anything like that. It is basically a judgement call.
Montana and a few localities delineate the size of lakes, but there is no scientific definition or universally accepted size. Montana’s “rule” is that 2 acres and up are called lakes, less than 2 acres are called ponds, but then there is the depth issue too. The general rule of thumb is that a lake is both larger in surface size and deeper, but again there’s no exact term, their legal definition is identical.
So How Does a Body of Water Become a Lake or a Pond?
The answer is very simple, whoever names the body of water usually calls it what they want. The difference between Stark’s Lake and Stark’s Pond is that Stark named it one or the other. But common sense says a 2 mile wide inland body of water is not a pond, it’s a lake, as people have always separated pond and lake by size. If they are close in size, however, whoever owns it, discovered it, or, ultimately, names it, decides the difference between a pond and a lake.