When you live on the lake, it may be tempting to dump items such as grass clippings, leaves or other items into the water, but please don’t. Putting things in the river, even organic materials, can cause problems such as algae blooms or cause bacteria to multiply in the water.
It’s also not a good idea to dispose of pet waste in the water, because this causes the spread of e coli, a harmful bacteria that can make pets or people sick. This can also make recreational activities, such as fishing or swimming, dangerous.
While most people understand that placing pet waste in the water is bad, many may wonder how placing leaves or grass clippings in the water could be a problem.
Nutrients from an excess of organic materials, or even over fertilizing yards or gardens, result in algal blooms. As the algae “blooms,” it can affect both the dissolved oxygen content of the water and the pH. Algal blooms have been known to cause fish kills due to the high rate of oxygen consumption by algae during the nighttime hours.
These added nutrients in the water can also cause more plant growth in the lake, which can lead to impaired navigation in many waterways. This is especially prevalent in shallow areas where sunlight can penetrate the entire water column.
There are several ways in which you can help protect your local waterways and lakes, and in turn, your drinking water sources. Keep the following simple tips in mind.
- Be sure to keep grass clippings and leaves out of the lake, storm drains and streets. Grass and leaves release nutrients into the water as they decompose.
- Keep lawn clippings on your lawn to utilize the nutrients in them, reducing the need for fertilizers.
- Properly dispose of pet waste. Flushing or throwing away waste are the best methods.
- Do not drain swimming pools or hot tubs into the lakes or waterways.
- Dispose of household chemicals at a hazardous waste collection center. Do not pour them down the drain, dump them on soil or in the lake.
- Take your boat out of the water to change the oil or other fluids.
- Use phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaners to clean your boat.
- Feeding wildlife is fun, especially for kids. But doing so discourages foraging and encourages them to congregate in the same areas – and with them comes added bacterial contamination from droppings.
- Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly and only as directed by the manufacturer.
- Use organic, no-phosphate or slow-release fertilizers as much as possible.
- Test your soil before fertilizing. You may not need it!
- Do not apply fertilizers or pesticides before or during rain. Also, avoid using fertilizers near surface water.
- Plant native vegetation to reduce the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides.
- Plant vegetation around driveways, shorelines and on slopes since they aid in absorbing and filtering pollutants.
Following these guidelines can help keep the lake safer and healthier for everyone.