What you can do to protect our lakes

Keeping your shoreline natural is one of the best ways to ensure the quality of our water continues to be good. A natural shoreline can discourage geese from visiting your beach.

A natural filter strip of vegetation consisting of native grasses, trees and shrubs along the shoreline is ideal. This vegetation is important to water quality as it acts as a natural filter to man-made pollutants and nutrients that encourage algae from rainwater runoff.

When trees and other natural vegetation are removed and replaced by buildings or grass, a gap is created in the lake’s natural filter. This increases the amount of pollutants in the rainwater draining into the lake, and over time will impact the lake’s water quality.

Lawns produce eight times as much total phosphorous runoff as natural woodlands, according to individual studies by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey. They also allow about 10 times as much water runoff, carrying silt into waterways and potentially causing erosion. Though phosphorous can be carried by soil and rainwater, the study found that by filtering runoff, natural buffer strips significantly reduce the amount that drains into lakes and streams.

Skip the fertilizer

Fertilizers should not be applied within 75 feet of the water. Minnesota law bans the use of phosphorus fertilizer, because phosphorous is the nutrient turning Minnesota’s lakes and streams green with algae. When shopping for your lawn and landscaping supplies purchase fertilizers that contain zero phosphorous, and only buy brands that have clearly indicated a middle number of zero (X-O-X) on the packaging.

Many of us have seen lakes in the southern part of the state that are choked with algae and weeds so that swimming and even boating are difficult. We are blessed with our clear water, but we need to make efforts to make sure it stays that way. We all play a part.

Shoreline erosion

Maintaining the quality of these lakes also includes responsible boating — such as avoiding spilling fuel into the lakes and using appropriate speed. Shoreline erosion and vegetation destruction can be a very negative result of high wakes caused by boats too close to the shore.

The DNR has information on the types of things permissible to protect your shoreline: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/restoreyourshore/index.html