Winter Thoughts and Keeping Our Lake Healthy

Snow is falling so the lake will be frozen soon, fishing through the ice will be the norm, not fishing from boats. But as we think about next summer, we need to keep thinking how to keep our lake in good health.

One of the health dangers for our lake is erosion of dirt and gravel into the lake. The issue is phosphate that enters the lake with the eroded material and phosphate encourages the growth of algae. Last summer, there was another bloom of blue-green algae. The species doesn’t seem to be especially bad for water quality but it is at least a nuisance.

People also complain of more “gunk” on the bottom. More phosphate will encourage more growth. To prevent erosion of dirt and gravel into the lake, we need to avoid doing some things. The first photo shows what someone did to their shore front. It seems that they added gravel to make a “ledge” area but this kind of construction will wash away in the waves of one storm. All the gravel that was brought in, with its phosphorous, will end up in the lake. This kind of construction is bad for the lake and is illegal unless you get a permit for it (and it probably would not be allowed in this case).

erosion2

Another example is the removal of rocks along the shoreline to provide access from the lake to land. Removing the rocks means that waves will erode the dirt and cause all the phosphate in that dirt to enter the lake. Again, this project would be unlikely to be permitted because of the danger to water quality.

erosion1

We must realize that the action of one person probably doesn’t mean that the lake will turn green. It used to be that the stock phrase was: “The solution to pollution is dilution.” It is true that either one of these “projects” won’t ruin the lake because the pollution is diluted into the entire lake. But if everyone around the lake did a similar project, there would be problems. This is why there are laws to protect our lakes and waterways.

Years ago, with many fewer people, it was OK to have a septic system not working correctly and overflow into the lake but as more people started living around the lake, it became a problem. Septic systems were born to allow people to use water to flush their toilets. Some of these systems are old and may have been inadequate to start with. This is why septic systems need to be upgraded before properties sell. The state isn’t going to make existing owners upgrade unless they have a problem. However, new owners need to know that they don’t have problems lurking underground. We must protect our lake.