June 2 – 15 , 2017 Vol. 19, No. 1


Summertime in the Belgrades

June 2 – 15

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Your Part in Protecting Water Quality

by Dale Finseth

It really was not that long ago that the water surface was covered with ice and snow. Yet it is already time to start thinking about getting your feet wet and enjoying the summer season in your watershed. I'd like to start the season with an overview about water quality in our ponds and streams!

You hear the term "non-point source pollution" or NPS. The term means just what it implies. The pollution comes from many sources instead of a single point. So . . . it's the rain runoff from roofs, parking areas and roadways. It includes the unimpeded runoff from your yard/lawn or a farmer's field. It may include the runoff from a local car wash or other commercial activity. Some of it may come from an area of the watershed where septic systems are not working effectively. NPS at all those sites adds up and has a cumulative effect on our lakes.

How do we address these NPS sites? We use a "Best Management Practice," or BMP. (Though I prefer to use the term "Better Management Practice". It's somewhat presumptuous to think we know what is best.) A BMP is a practice done to address the problem caused by the Non-Point Source. Confused yet? It doesn't need to be that complicated. The staff here at the Kennebec District or your local watershed group are able to identify different types of BMPs designed to intercept water runoff. The practice either removes or decreases that runoff's impact on a stream or pond.

As a landowner what can you do to help protect and even improve the water quality of our marvelous watersheds? We work with various pond and lake associations and individual landowners. Over the next months' issues of Summertime In the Belgrades, we will address issues people need to focus on. That isn't just people who own camps on the water but includes everybody who uses the resources in that area whether you simply walk on the beach, live year-round on the shoreline, or occasionally drop a boat into the water. Regardless of where you live, you are in some watershed. The water that leaves your property ends up in one of our streams or ponds. Even if it seems to disappear down a storm drain, that water runoff ends up somewhere.

There are ways for us to minimize our impact on water quality. Some people like to focus on how they manage their yard and property.

  • Minimize your lawn and only fertilize if you absolutely need to and then only in the fall.
  • Keep the lawn well back from the water's edge. A good buffer planting of shrubs with erosion control mulch does a good job of intercepting water runoff and filtering it before it gets to the lake.
  • Control the water runoff from your buildings or driveway and parking. These impervious surfaces can concentrate rainwater runoff and funnel it into the lake.
  • Clean and manage drainage ditches. Divert that water into the woods or otherwise filter it so it doesn't transport soil, chemicals, or other toxics into the water.
  • If you have a driveway or share a camp road, make sure it is designed and maintained to collect the rainwater and divert it into either filter ponds or a vegetative area where the water has time to settle before it gets to the lake.
  • If you use a boat, keep it maintained. Don't spill or drain engine fluids into the water. Make sure you check your boat and trailer for any petroleum residue and/or other pollutants.
  • . . . AND MAINTAIN YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM!!! Have it checked regularly and pumped as needed.

Remember, there is a lot to do in working to protect water quality.

Conservation Too columns are written by staff at by the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call Dale Finseth at 622-7847, X 3 or visit www.kcswd.org.