Lakefront Properties - Improving Water Quality

By: Alan Olson

Now that you have your ideal lakefront property, complete with a sandy beach and fresh, clean water. You may not realize it, but there are measures you can take to help preserve this unique environment.

Add Filter Strips: This is a natural strip of vegetation that is added close to the shoreline; its purpose is act as a filter to prevent pollutants from seeping into the water. It could be in the form of grasses or the most effective type is mature woodland.

Sewage Treatment: Ensure your sewage system is properly maintained to prevent contaminants from leaking into groundwater.

Erosion and Sediment: Soil erosion and other residue contain nutrients that encourage the growth of algae and bacteria in lakes. Limit the amount of erosion by landscaping with mulch, rocks, sod or by building retaining walls.

Lawns and Gardens: Think long and hard about where you want your lawn, or if you want one at all. Remember that maintaining that lush green terrain means watering, fertilizing, weed killing; all of which will seep right back into your fresh clean lake. Plant gardens well away from the water's edge, use environmentally friendly fertilizers and try to minimize the erosion.

Toxic Chemicals: Whenever possible, replace the use of toxic chemical with an environmentally friendly version. Dispose of oil, paint or any toxins by using accepted methods.

Storm Water Runoff: Generally, rain water runoff is absorbed by the natural landscape, but in areas where there are concrete, paving or other hard surfaces, it can collect and create erosion or flooding. Try and minimize the amount of these hard surfaces in your landscaping.

Species and Habitat Diversity: Try to preserve as much of the natural landscape as possible; the plant and animal species need this diversity of vegetation to maintain balance and survive. This also works both ways; if you have a natural over-abundance of an invasive plant, such as purple loustrife, measures should be taken to control it.

Eutrophication: This is a fancy term that means your lake is encouraging the growth of harmful, oxygen-depleting plants, because it is being fed an overabundant supply of nutrients from fertilizers or sewage. A common example of this occurs when there is an excess of phosphorus and nitrogen; this encourages the growth of weeds and algae, thus creating a mucky bottom. This process can be slowed down by engaging the practices discussed above, and especially by properly maintaining sewage treatment systems.

Spread the Word: It would be great if you could implement some of these precautions to help maintain cleaner waters, but think of the positive effect, if all of your neighbors were as diligent. Why not organize a "protect our lake" night by inviting your neighbors and spreading the word. For more information, visit the Minnesota DNR web site at: dnr.state.mn.us/contact/index.html.

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