All Lawns Can Impact
Even if you live far from a lake or river, your lawn
and household maintenance can affect water quality. This is because
everyone lives in a watershed!
A "watershed" or "basin" is
the surrounding land that drains into a water body. For example, the
land shown below drains into rivers and eventually Lake Champlain by
surface runoff after rainfalls. In urban areas, many municipal storm
drains send untreated runoff directly to lakes and rivers.
Learn more about watersheds and storm water at these websites:
Your Watershed - Find Your Watershed with a Zip code
Watersheds - Lake Champlain Basin Atlas
What's the Fuss About Phosphorus?
cities and suburbs, the incremental runoff of the nutrient phosphorus
(P) from sources like lawn fertilizer—whether organic
or conventional—is a serious concern because it
feeds algae and weeds in waterways. About half of Lake
Champlain's phosphorus problem is from developed lands and one acre of
urban/suburban land contributes about four times more phosphorus to the
Lake than one acre of farm land!
land has many impervious surfaces, such as paved roads,
sidewalks and roofs. When it rains, these impervious surfaces rush pollutants
into storm drains that lead directly to waterways.
suggests that just one pound of phosphorus can feed 300-500 pounds of
algae in a water body. While most algae blooms are generally harmless
to humans, decomposing algae and weeds take up oxygen in the water that
is vital to fish and other animals. Furthermore, algae and weeds discourage
swimmers, anglers, and boaters—and
even lower property values. Phosphorus also feeds toxic blooms of blue-green
algae (actually a bacteria called cyanobacteria)
that are occasionally found in the parts of Lake Champlain. In recent
summers, cyanobacteria blooms have caused beach closings and health
alerts in parts of northern Lake Champlain.
Please don't feed the algae—switch
to phosphorus-free fertilizer!
Learn more about phosphorus
More lake-friendly tips