Water Quality & YOU

It has been a while since I have challenged your knowledge of water quality issues, so see how well you do on this short quiz.

  1. Improper Silt Fence
    Improper Silt Fence

    The biggest threat to water quality in HVL is?

    1. Wild animals defecating in the water
    2. Oil and gas spills from boats
    3. Sedimentation
    4. Fertilizer Runoff
    5. Trash blocking water channels

If you guessed that the biggest threat to the beauty and quality of our lake and ponds is sedimentation, you are correct. You see the impact of dirt in the lake after every rainstorm when the water turns brown with mud. You experience the impact of sediment as our lakes and ponds silt up over the years reducing access to boats and swimmers. You cringe when your POA dues increase partly to cover the costs of dredging, erosion prevention measures and emergency excavations to maintain unobstructed water flow. Trash, fecal material, oil slicks on the water, and algae growth from excess nutrients are problems, but sediment from natural and man-made erosion is the biggest pollutant in HVL lakes.

  1. Which of the following will NOT help decrease the flow of sediment into the lake?
    1. Properly installing silt fences
    2. Removing honeysuckle
    3. Setting your lawn mower to its highest blade setting
    4. Planting pollinator and rain gardens
    5. Installing a rain barrel
    6. Planting new trees when you remove dead ones
    7. None of the above

The answer is G. Anything that slows down the flow of water helps to trap sediment before it gets into the lake. Silt fences at construction sites – IF PROPERLY INSTALLED – create pools where dirt can settle out before the water flows into water channels. Properly installing silt fences at construction sites is an HVL requirement, and you can be fined if you do not comply with the guidelines.

Smart landscaping can reduce sedimentation since plant root systems absorb water and hold the soil in place. Native plants and wildflowers tend to have much deeper and more extensive root systems than lawns and annual flowerbeds, so plant deep-rooted species where you can. Native prairie wildflowers are a good choice and are also good for bees and butterflies. Keep your lawn healthy by setting your mower deck to its highest setting since a longer blade of grass creates a more robust root system.

How does removing honeysuckle help? See if you can figure this out on your own. When you hike in the woods, count how many kinds of deep-rooted plants you can find growing underneath a honeysuckle thicket. Compare this to areas where there is no dense honeysuckle blocking light penetration to ground plants.

Linda Hartmann
HVL Natural Resources Co-ordinator

Keep In Touch

Sign up to receive the latest news and updates from Hidden Valley Lake.