July 19 – 25, 2019Vol. 21, No. 7

LakeSmart Tips and Tricks

The Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade Lakes Village, shown here from "the Channel," is a LakeSmart property.

by Sabine Fontaine

As we reach the middle of summer and water temperatures rise, you may begin to see more and more algae growth in our lakes. By late August, you may even see algae blooms caused by phosphorus that has washed into the lake. In some states, these blooms have made lakes unusable and unsafe, leaves a lot of us wondering: How can we slow down the growth of algae? How can we keep our lakes safe and usable? What can I, a lake-loving property owner, do?

Luckily LakeSmart, an educational program run by Maine Lakes Society, is here to help! LakeSmart volunteers visit properties and make recommendations that will help preserve the quality of the lakes. As we tell everyone we visit, it is all about keeping runoff, which carries unwanted pollutants, out of the lake. Here are a few things you can do to protect the water quality of our lakes:

  1. Request a LakeSmart visit to receive personalized recommendations for your property.
  2. Participate in the Great Pond watershed survey this September.
  3. Cover all bare soil with Erosion Control Mulch or gravel to stabilize the area
  4. Encourage all natural growth to develop along the shore to discourage run-off.
  5. Clearly define all recreation areas and pathways to prevent erosion from foot traffic
  6. Eliminate or minimize the use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

If you look around your yard, your lakefront, your pathways, what do you see? Are there any well-loved areas looking bare? So bare you can see the soil? Here's your tip to preserve property value, protect water quality, and save the lake: cover that soil up!

Pathway stabilized by erosion control mulch. Photo courtesy of Maine Lakes Society LakeSmart.

Why? Storm water carries soil with its pollutants like phosphorus into the lake where it feeds algae blooms. These blooms look ugly, decrease property value, and disrupt the lake's ecosystem. The loons we thrill to see and hear need clear water to find their food. Fish, frogs, osprey and eagles depend on a healthy lake as well.

It's easy to fix those bare spots. Covering soil with mulch keeps pollution from being washed into the lake by storm water. There are many mulches, but one of the best is Erosion Control Mulch (ECM). It contains large woody pieces and small stones that lock together, so it doesn't wash away in rainstorms. You can get ECM from many local landscaping companies to use on your pathways. On flat areas less prone to runoff, a regular undyed mulch or crushed stone would also cover soil to save the lake.

If you are interested in getting personalized LakeSmart recommendations for your property, you can sign up for a free, no-obligation, LakeSmart visit by contacting Sabine Fontaine at lakesmart@blamaine.org or 512-5150.