Chapter Four - Shoreline Management

Protecting the shoreline

HOMEOWNERS AND LAKE associations can implement many practices that will help to reduce lake pollution and protect water quality. Appropriate landscaping, reduced use of fertilizers and pesticides, proper maintenance of septic systems, and judicious use of household products are discussed below. Before beginning any activity, think about potential pathways and risks to water quality from soil erosion, chemical amendments, and yard waste.

Shoreline Development: Lakeside Building

Shoreline development can hurt a lake. The shorelines and wetlands act as a buffer between water and land as they trap nutrients, filter pollutants, retard erosion, and provide habitats for plants and animals.

Shoreline development directly affects lakes in two ways. First, wildlife habitats and buffering capacity are lost through destruction of the natural vegetation around lakes. Second, pollution from increased surface runoff and nutrient additions from fertilized lawns and septic systems can affect lake water quality.

Landscaping: Lawns and gardens

Lawns and gardens adjacent to lakes must be carefully planned and maintained to prevent contamination of surface and ground waters. Consider native vegetation as a quality alternative to cultured lawns and landscapes because it provides a more diverse and balanced plant community and habitat. Contact a nursery that supplies native plants for species best adapted for your needs.

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:

  • Areas of exposed soil or poorly established vegetation.
  • Coarse textured soils such as sands or sandy loams.
  • Property sloping toward water.
  • Impervious surface such as sidewalks and driveways.
  • Lawn/landscape maintenance close to water.
  • Application of.fertilizers, pesticides, or soil amendments.

A balanced approach to waterfront landscaping retains some natural habitat and reduces pollution and erosion while also meeting your aesthetic and access needs.

Fertilizers: Growth stimulators

Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers if possible. Native vegetation does not require the application of additional fertilizer. Compost or manure is preferable to chemical fertilizers; however, they can degrade (damage) water quality if used in excessive amounts.

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

  • Have your soil tested to determine how much fertilizer is needed.
  • Water your lawn after fertilizing, but do not allow excess water to run off into surface waters.
  • Sweep up any fertilizer which is spilled on hard surfaces such as walks and driveways.
  • Be careful when applying fertilizer near surface waters. Do not spread fertilizer within 75 feet of surface waters or wetlands. Use a "drop" spreader and not a "cyclone" spreader to reduce the chances of getting fertilizer in the water.

Pesticides: Insect and weed control

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 if needed.

The following practices will minimize the potential of contamination from pesticides:

  • Properly identify whether an insect, disease, or other factor is causing the problem.
  • Determine whether there is an economic or aesthetic justification to initiate control of the pest.
  • Consider controlling the pest without a pesticide.
  • Use the least toxic and most readily degradable pesticide.
  • Read the pesticide label carefully. Pay special attention to warnings about use near water and safety precautions.
  • Do not apply pesticides when it is windy to avoid the possibility of drift.
  • Purchase only what is needed to control the problem (this season).
  • Dispose of waste pesticides properly. Do not pour them on the ground or into storm drains, surface waters, or sanitary treatment systems. Consult with your local solid waste office for proper disposal methods.

Landscaping: Example of a lake-friendly landscape plan

Riparian Zone:
Lady fern, sedges (many species), blue flag iris.Landscape_design

Lower Bank:
Shrubs: red osier dogwood, red elderberry, evergreen huckleberry
Ground Covers: lady fern, bunchberry, sword fern;
Shade Trees: chokecherry, Oregon ash, western hemlock;
Shade & Cover: vine maple, western crabapple, hazelnut.

Upper Bank:
Shrubs: serviceberry, mock orange, red flowering current;
Ground Covers: salal, sword fern, pick-a-back; Shade Trees: chokecherry, Oregon ash, western hemlock, Shade and Cover: vine maple, western crabapple, hazelnut.

Septic Systems: They need to be maintained

Without routine maintenance a properly installed septic system should not pollute the lake. The following practices will reduce contamination from septic systems.

  • Have your septic tank checked every other year and pumped when necessary.
  • Use nonphosphate detergents, wash full loads of clothes, and use water-saving showers and toilets to avoid stressing your septic system.
  • Do not use a garbage disposal.
  • Do not use septic system additives. Keep solvents, plastics, paper diapers, and other similar products out of your septic system.
  • Do not pave over or park on your drain field. The soil needs to breathe.

Hazardous Household Products: Cleaners can be toxic

Many common household cleaners and products contain ingredients that are corrosive, toxic, or flammable. When used or disposed of improperly, these products can affect personal health and safety and can also contaminate ground water and soil, eventually polluting our lakes.

Think before buying household cleaning and maintenance products. General purpose products may work as well as products developed for a specific surface or appliance. Purchase water-based nontoxic or less toxic products rather than solvent-based paints and cleaners. Alternatives to hazardous cleaning products are cheaper and some are equally effective. Information on these alternatives is available from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

If you must use a hazardous product, read the label carefully before purchasing. Make sure the product will do what you want it to. Buy only the amount you need. If you cannot use it all, give it to someone who can.

Exotic Species: Foreign invasion

Exotic species, organisms introduced into habitats where they are not native, are considered to be severe threats to our lakes. They are a major cause of the continuing loss of biological diversity throughout the world and have caused extinction of some native species.

The exotic zebra mussel. Be on the alert for these tiny invaders.

In the absence of predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors from their native habitat, species introduced into new habitats often overrun their new home and crowd out native species. Once established, exotics rarely can be eliminated. Examples of exotic species are common cordgrass (Spartina angelica), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). State law prohibits the sale, distribution, or planting of these and other exotics.

You can take the following actions to minimize the spread of exotic plants and animals:

  • Learn what these species look like and monitor for their presence. Report a new infestation to the Washington State Department of Ecology or your county Noxious Weed Control Board.
  • Do not introduce exotic species--especially don't dump unwanted aquarium contents into a lake.
  • Remove plants and animals from your boat, trailer, and accessory equipment before leaving the water access area. Then wash all equipment with hot water. If possible, let everything dry for three days before transporting your boat to another body of water.