Don’t “P” in the Lake

Keep Our Lakes Healthy

Blue sky and clear water at Paradise Lake at Hidden Valley Lake, Indiana
HVL Paradise Lake

It looks like we may have another hot summer that increases the possibility of an algae bloom on our lake. Such blooms are natural, but can be accelerated if there is an excess amount of phosphate in the water. This can occur in spring when the surface water temperatures warm bringing inorganic phosphate from bottom sediment to the surface. The best way for us to control this is to minimize sedimentation from erosion – hence our rules requiring silt fences during construction.

A greater threat to our lake water is excess nutrients from organic sources like pet wastes or decaying vegetation, and from phosphate-containing fertilizer. We can control these sources of lake pollution by picking up after our pets, by keeping yard waste out of the water and by properly applying fertilizer to our yards.

Dos and don’ts for taking care of your property this spring

DO get a soil test done on your property. There is no need to add additional nutrients (fertilizer) unless there is a deficiency.

DO contact your lawn care service (if you use one) and demand that they apply phosphate-free fertilizer when they treat your lawn. Also consider requesting that they use organic fertilizers to minimize health risks.

DO buy a phosphate-free fertilizer if you treat your lawn yourself. Look for a rating of 10-0-10 (or something similar) to amend your lawn. Just make sure that the second number in the formulation is 0 or that the product you choose says “phosphate free.” Also consider applying an organic fertilizer.

DO set your lawnmower to its highest setting. Tall grass (minimum of 3”) is healthier since there are more cells in the leaf blade performing photosynthesis causing the root system to grow proportionally. Tall grass also shades out weed seeds eliminating the need for herbicides.

DO plant deep-rooted plants near the lake or on any water runoff channel in your yard. This will help to minimize water and chemical runoff. Native wildflowers are a good choice that will also attract and support pollinators.

Avoid signing a contract for multiple fertilizer applications throughout the summer. It is often enough to apply fertilizer in early spring, in early fall, and in late fall with a slow-release fertilizer.

Do your part to ensure the quality of our lake water. Apply fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides only when needed to minimize chemical runoff into the lake.

Linda Hartmann
HVL Natural Resources Management

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