If you spend time fishing and boating on your favorite lake, you probably care a great deal about protecting it for future generations to enjoy. This is a good reason to learn about lake eutrophication and find out about the changes that can be made to help slow the process.
What is Lake Eutrophication?
What is eutrophication? Simply put, eutrophication is a natural process that results from an accumulation of nutrients (primarily phosphorous and nitrogen), in a waterway. Algae feeds on these nutrients and forms scum on the surface of the water. When the algae decays, it produces foul odors and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen, which causes fish kills and decreases the recreational value of a lake.
Human activities often accelerate the eutrophication of lakes by adding to the level of harmful nutrients that affect our aquatic natural resources. You can contribute to conservation and prevent the lake eutrophication process in your local community by making a few changes around your own home.
Fertilize Less While Considering Timing
When you fertilize your garden or lawn, consider the timing, and don’t over-fertilize. Using too much fertilizer at the wrong time is one of the causes of eutrophication. For example, if you put fertilizer on before a heavy rain, most of it is likely to end up in the nearest waterway due to runoff. In addition, if you use too much fertilizer then a good portion of it won’t be absorbed into the soil – the next rain shower will just wash the excess fertilizer into a local lake or river.
Use Phosphate-free Detergents
Another easy way of reducing eutrophication in lakes is by avoiding the use of any detergents that contain phosphates. Start using phosphate-free laundry detergents, dish detergents, boat soaps, and car wash supplies. There are many alternative products on the market these days which don’t contain phosphates or other nutrients, but that work just as well.
Dispose of Sewage Properly
Cut down on the nutrient load that contributes to the eutrophication of lakes from improper sewage disposal. If you have a septic system, make sure the system is regularly cleaned and maintained. You should also consider how you are currently disposing of pet waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the safest way of disposing doggy doo is to flush it down the toilet. This might seem a bit strange, but your pet’s poop will make its way to a sewage treatment plant. The water treatment process will remove most of the pollutants before the errant stool reaches a lake or river. In addition, dog poop should never be used as fertilizer because it isn’t the same as cow manure or chicken droppings, which both generally start out as vegetation and are generally considered effective at recycling nutrients back into the soil.
By taking these steps to help slow the process of lake eutrophication, you’re playing an active role in helping to protect our natural aquatic resources now and for the future.