This helpful information from the New Hampshire Lakes Association is being offered by the Andover Conservation Commission to bring attention to ways Andover residents can play a part in keeping their lakes healthy.
Now that the weather is getting warmer, we are all drawn to our lakes. All of us need to do what we can do to protect the health of our lakes.
Please join the New Hampshire Lakes Association, or at least check out their website regularly. They also offer webinars to help us learn about our lakes and become better stewards of them.
New Hampshire is home to approximately 1,000 lakes and ponds. Not only are these irreplaceable natural resources important to the ecological health of the state, they contribute to our quality of life and to the state’s economy. Here’s what we can do to help keep them clean and healthy. Some of these tips are for those who live on the water, but many are for all of us. All of us live upstream from our lakes and rivers, and everyone needs to do their part.
Keep shorelines vegetated with native plants. Plants along the shoreline help keep lakes healthy by absorbing polluted runoff water from roadways and lawns.
Reduce your use of fertilizer. Not only does fertilizer make your lawn green, when applied in excess or too close to the water, it makes your lake green with algae. You can check to see if your soil even needs fertilizer by conducting a simple test (contact your local University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension for more information.) You can save money by using lake water to fertilize your lawn or garden, since it naturally contains nitrogen and phosphorus, the main components of conventional fertilizers.
If you must use fertilizer, use phosphorus-free fertilizer (the middle number in the N-P-K listing on the bag should be 0). And remember, state regulations prohibit the use of all fertilizers, except limestone, within 25 feet of the high water mark of waterbodies. Twenty-five feet beyond the high water line, low phosphate, slow-release nitrogen fertilizer can be used.
Dispose of yard waste away from water bodies. Grass clippings and leaves contain nutrients such as phosphorus that aquatic plants and algae use to grow. In addition, this organic matter smothers the habitat of fish and other aquatic organisms and causes the lake bottom to become mucky. No one likes to wade and swim in muck!
Wash boats, cars, and pets away from water bodies. Soaps and shampoos will add nutrients and other pollutants to the lake. Even camping soaps or biodegradable soaps may contain undesirable pollutants.
Prevent erosion by stabilizing paths to the water. Limit foot traffic to the shoreline by providing only one meandering pathway surrounded by vegetation. This will prevent polluted runoff water from being funneled directly into the lake. State regulations limit the widths of new paths to the water.
Have your septic system inspected once a year. Have your tank pumped every two to three years. Organize a neighborhood pump-out to get a lower price. And, upgrade or replace your septic system if it is outdated or undersized.
The typical life expectancy of a conventional septic system leach field is approximately 20 years. If your system is approaching this age, or if you have added bedrooms and/or bathrooms to your house since your septic system was built, you probably need a new one.
Keep shorelines clean by not feeding waterfowl. While it might be fun to feed the waterfowl, there is more than enough natural food available for the ducks and geese. Waterfowl waste contains phosphorus and nitrogen which contributes to undesirable algal blooms, and also lots of bacteria and possibly parasites, which can make swimmers sick.
Remove hitchhiking plants and animals from boats and trailers – clean, drain, and dry! Aquatic invasive plants, like milfoil, and animals like the Asian clam, spread from lake to lake by little fragments or larvae being transported from infested lakes to non-infested lakes on or in boats and trailers.
Aquatic invasive species infestations make recreation in and on the water dangerous and unpleasant, disrupt the ecological balance of lakes, reduce shoreline property values, are difficult and expensive to control, and are almost impossible to get rid of.
Join the Highland Lake Protective Association. If your favorite lake does not have a local group protecting it, contact New Hampshire Lakes Association and we can help you form one.
Become a member of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, the only statewide, member-supported nonprofit organization working to keep New Hampshire’s lakes clean and healthy, now and in the future. The organization works with partners, promotes clean water policies and responsible use, and inspires the public to care for our lakes. For information, visit NHlakes.org, email info@nullNHlakes.org, or call 226-0299.
You can find an Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet filled with information at
New Hampshire Lakes Association presents free monthly webinars. All webinars are from 7 to 8 PM. To find out more and to register for the webinars, visit NHlakes.org/explore-lakes-webinars. Upcoming webinars include:
Wednesday, June 2: Boating Safety 101
Wednesday, June 16: Lake Level Management: A Balancing Act
Wednesday, July 7: Enjoying Lakes While Protecting Wildlife
From the website you can also get access to the recording, slides, and chat box discussion from earlier webinars.