Best management practices for lakes

There are many actions communities and homeowners can take to protect their lakes. Best management practices for lake residents include:

Links to more information about best management practices.

Maintaining septic systems

Improperly maintained on-site sewage disposal systems may contribute nutrients and potentially bacteria to the lake. The following practices will reduce contamination from septic systems.

For further information about septic systems and their maintenance see the EPA website

Waterfowl management

Everyone enjoys feeding ducks and geese, but feeding these birds encourages them to take up residence on your lake. Ducks and geese bring poop and associated nutrients and bacteria. Scientists estimate that up to half of the nutrient load to Green Lake in Seattle was caused by resident waterfowl.  Things that you can do to discourage waterfowl include:

Learn more about Canada geese at the United States Department of Agriculture website 

Landscape practices

Plan and maintain lawns and gardens adjacent to lakes to prevent contamination of surface and ground water. Consider native vegetation as a quality alternative to lawns and landscapes. Native vegetation provides a more diverse and balanced plant community and habitat. Contact a nursery that supplies native plants for species best adapted for your needs. If you have a lawn, use a mulching lawnmower. This can reduce fertilizer use by about 25 percent.

Don't site your compost bin right next to the lake shoreline. Compost contains nutrients that can leach into lake waters if located near the shoreline. A balanced approach to waterfront landscaping retains some natural habitat and reduces pollution and erosion while also meeting your aesthetic and access needs. See also Blueprint for a Lake-friendly Landscape.

Controlling runoff and soil erosion

Shoreline Management Regulations prohibit intensive removal of vegetation near the shore or on steep slopes. Check with your local jurisdiction for specific regulations.

Take steps to offset problems which could occur under the following conditions:

Fertilizer use

Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers if possible. Native vegetation requires less fertilizer. Use compost or manure rather than chemical fertilizers; however, compost and manure can also degrade water quality if used in excessive amounts. If you must use fertilizers, use natural time-release products.

If you apply fertilizers to lawns and gardens, adhere to the following guidelines:

Pet waste disposal

Regularly scoop up and dispose of pet wastes. Bag pet wastes and dispose of the bags in the garbage. Do not compost pet wastes because they may contain harmful diseases or bacteria as well as the plant nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. Don't ever dispose of pet wastes in the lake.

Car washing

Wash your car at a licensed car wash. If you wash your car at home, wash it in your yard so that the soap and grime will not go into the storm drains directly into your lake.

Reducing or eliminating pesticide use

Avoid the use of chemical pesticides if possible. Consult a professional from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service to determine alternative methods for pest controls.
The following practices will minimize the potential of contamination from pesticides:

Links to more information about best management practices

Click here to see the King County Lake Stewardship Program's lake-friendly fact sheets

Shoreline Best Management Practices

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