Trying to sort out what makes a body of water a “reservoir, a “lake,” or a “pond” may require the skills of an attorney who also has a degree in limnology.
Making matters even more confusing for the layperson is “limnology,” which itself is derived from another set of Greek words for “lake” and “knowledge.”
Thus, limnology is the study of inland freshwater entities, be they lakes, reservoirs or ponds.
Which brings us back to Square One, that being, when exactly is a body of freshwater a pond, lake or reservoir?
Unfortunately an easy, cut-and-dried answer is not readily available. It seems to be a matter of who is asking and who is answering.
Ponds – or so goes the thinking of some limnologists - is a body of freshwater of either 5 acres or less, 10 to 12 acres or less, or 20 acres or less, and then often constructed by humans (“Granger's Pond”) or by an animal (a “beaver pond”).
Making matters more confusing, in most New England states - such as Maine - natural lakes are called “ponds.”
And the word “pond” comes from the Old English word “pound,” meaning a confined enclosure, fitting for a body of water of any size, come to think of it, really.
As for what constitutes a “lake,” the very root of that term (or “etymology,” the study of words) comes from Middle English and means, well, a “lake,” but also a “pond” or a “waterway.”
Regarding the distinction of what makes one body of water a reservoir and another a lake is similarly shrouded in ambiguity.
Though many limnologists say that large, man-made reservoirs are lakes and thus also a term used by many political entities, others say “no;” that lakes are natural while reservoirs are contrived waterways contained by some form of constructed artifact: I.E., a dam.
An argument in favor of a reservoir being called a reservoir and not a lake is contained wholly within the word's etymological beginnings. In short, “reservoir” is French in origin and means “storehouse.”
Obviously that is an appropriate definition since reservoirs are by their nature storehouses of water for one reason or another.
All of which begs the question, is it proper to interchangeably use “Pymatuning Lake” for “Pymatuning Reservoir,” or “LaDue Lake” (which hardly anyone ever uses) instead of “LaDue Reservoir” (which virtually everyone uses)?
And why not also say “Punderson Reservoir” instead of “Punderson Lake,” which (again) virtually everyone uses in describing this 100-acre Ice Age kettle lake (oops “pond” if it were in Maine)?
The answer then is to use whatever the locals or owners of the waterways deem appropriate.
Consequently, Lake Metroparks is just as correct in saying “Hidden Lake” for its 9.2-acre constructed body of water in Leroy Township as it is in saying “Granger's Pond” for the agency's 34-acre pond/lake/reservoir found within Mentor's Veteran Park.
Oh, and even though Granger's Pond is nearly four time larger than Hidden Lake.
Toe-may-toe or toe-mah-toe, the choice is the beholder's to use, though just make sure it has lots of fishes.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn