Hauser Lake Watershed Coalition Inc.
Caring Enough to Make A Difference
What is Lake*A*Syst
Lake*A*Syst is a Lakeshore Assessment System, a voluntary program designed to help protect Hauser Lake by reducing pollution and excess nutrients or sediment entering the lake. It uses the following 3-step process:
Providing information on Best Management Practices (“BMPs”) for reducing sediment and pollutants entering Hauser Lake and its contributing streams;
Providing an Action Checklist\Worksheet to help assess potential sources of sediment, excess nutrients & pollutants entering the lake from property within the watershed; and
Recommending actions that can be taken to implement BMPs to help protect Hauser Lake’s water quality.
If you live in the Hauser Lake Watershed or use Hauser Lake for recreation you have a special responsibility to help prevent sediment, excess nutrients or pollutants from entering the lake, its contributing streams and the surrounding ground water. Unlike better known, destination lakes in the area, Hauser Lake is a small lake used heavily by local residents for recreation. It is surrounded by timber and agricultural areas in addition to year round residences. Residential development has rapidly increased in the last twenty years raising concerns about degradation of the lake. As a result the Hauser Lake Watershed Coalition was formed to assess Hauser Lake’s current condition and to help improve and protect the quality of its waters, its wildlife and insure its suitability for continued recreational use.
The Hauser Lake Management Plan recommends many action items for water protection. One important item is to minimize the nutrients, sediments, and toxic materials entering into Hauser Lake, including those in storm water runoff from rain or snowmelt. Under natural forest conditions much of the water soaks into the ground but as an area becomes developed with roads, driveways and other impervious surfaces (including rooftops, decks, and walkways) less water seeps into the soil and runoff increases. This increased runoff is generally channeled into streams, ditches, storm sewers or road gullies and often ends up in Hauser Lake. The increased movement of phosphorous and nitrogen from the land to the lake accelerates premature aging of the lake. It causes excessive plant and algae growth, ultimately resulting in a low dissolved oxygen condition which kills fish.
Your property alone is probably not a significant source of sediment\pollution but the cumulative effect of all the properties in the Hauser Lake watershed has considerable impact on water quality. BMPs to help reduce sediment\pollution include:
Limit paved, compacted dirt or covered areas that prevent water from seeping into the ground;
Invest in permanent stabilization practices by planting vegetation, installing erosion control structures and diverting drainage;
Retain native trees and shrubs as they provide a natural umbrella by shedding water and can reduce runoff by as much as 50%;
Plan and complete an annual maintenance schedule to ensure that your runoff and erosion control plan is working to protect your property and reduce runoff;
Limit clearing and grading on slopes and minimize cutting and filling for roads, sidewalks or footpaths to reduce erosion; and
Avoid damaging adjacent property with temporary erosion control methods during any new construction projects because water does not stop flowing at your property line.
If your home is near the shore of Hauser Lake it is particularly important to maintain your septic systems properly as soil and water conditions near the shoreline can make the system less efficient in treating wastewater. Incomplete treatment can result in health risks for humans, pets, wildlife, and livestock as well as other water quality problems.
Potential health risks are a serious concern related to failing septic systems. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites in wastewater may spread hepatitis, dysentery and other diseases. These disease causing organisms may make near shore water unsafe for recreation. Flies and mosquitoes that are attracted to and breed in wet areas where wastewater reaches the surface may also spread disease.
Many of the synthetic cleaning products or other chemicals around the house can be toxic to humans, pets, wildlife, and livestock. These products may reach the ground surface or end up in the water if not properly treated or disposed. High nitrate levels in ground water are often the result of inadequately treated wastewater and can result in serious health problems for infants.
Inadequate treatment can also allow excess nutrients to reach the lake or contributing streams, promoting algae or weed growth. Algae blooms and abundant weeds not only make the lake unpleasant for swimming and boating but can also be deadly for pets, wildlife, or livestock that drink the water.
BMPS relating to wastewater include:
Excess water use is the most common cause of septic failure, so reduce water used for bathing, laundry and flushing the toilet;
Identify and repair leaking pipes, sticking float valves in toilets, and dripping faucets to reduce water waste;
Shorten shower times and choose showers over baths to minimize wasted water. A full bath uses 50 – 60 gallons of water, while showering uses about 5 gallons per minute.
Install low flow showerheads and low gallon flush toilets;
Eliminate the use of garbage disposals. Ground up garbage does not decompose easily, can cause rapid buildup of solids in the tank, and can clog drainfields;
Dispose of household hazardous waste properly;
Use liquid phosphate-free detergents and wash full loads of clothes, using front-loading washers to save water. Avoid overloading your system, spread washing over the week instead of several loads on one day. A single load takes about 40 gallons;
Gardens or flower beds should not be located over septic systems or drain fields as exposed soil increases the possibility of freezing and failure, and
Minimize use of household chemicals and cleaners and dispose of them properly.
Lawns and Gardens
Homeowners commonly over apply fertilizer, adding more nitrogen and phosphorus than is necessary. Although Hauser Lake has few lawns that go right up to the lakeshore without buffer strips, excess nutrients or pesticides can still be washed or carried into the lake by rain or heavy irrigation.
Overuse or misapplication of fertilizers and pesticides will:
Harm or kill beneficial insects and earthworms;
Harm wildlife and pets that come into contact with you lawn or garden;
Result in chemical runoff, during rainfall or irrigation, into the lake and its tributaries, contaminating the surface and ground water; and
Leach through the soil directly into ground water which may be used for drinking or irrigation.
Lawns and gardens near the lake or any of its tributaries should be carefully planned and maintained to prevent contamination of surface waters. Native vegetation should be considered as a quality alternative to maintained lawns and landscapes. Landscapes will revert to a native state if no maintenance is performed but planting native vegetation will hasten the process.
BMPs relating to your lawn and gardens include:
Raking dead leaves and brush away from the water and composting other vegetation away from the shoreline;
Never dumping leaves or other plant matter debris into the lake or contributing streams;
Avoid burning on a beach or near the shore because the remaining ash is highly alkaline and can change the pH of the lake; and
Use chemicals responsibly and in the proper amount, when treating lawns and gardens for plant diseases or insect pests,
Improper management of pastures, especially those adjacent to the lake and its contributing streams (riparian areas) can lead to pollutants, excess sediment and bacteria entering the lake and streams.
Soil compaction and increases in water runoff can occur when pastures are grazed wet. This can occur on pasturelands used as winter and spring feeding areas while the soils are wet and on pastures grazed during or too soon after irrigation. Overgrazing can leave pastures vulnerable to erosion by water and lead to excessive nutrient leaching or runoff.
Pasture BMPs include:
Subdividing large pastures into smaller ones and developing a pasture rotation system;
Corralling livestock and feeding hay until your pasture grasses are 6” to 8” high. Then moving livestock from a pasture when the grass has been eaten down by 50% and not re-grazing until the grasses are at least 6” high;
Continuing rotation during winter months and feeding in dry pastures to distribute manure;
Providing a water source in each pasture;
Using fences to exclude livestock from the lake, contributing streams and surrounding riparian areas; and
Placing any salt blocks away from watering locations to reduce time spent near water.
Site planning is an essential tool in preventing pollutants from being transported off-site from any new construction around the lake. A general step-by-step process is recommended for those developing or redeveloping near the lake, especially on steep slopes and highly erodible soils. Careful site planning can significantly reduce runoff and erosion.
The site plan should be based on your long term objectives and the suitability of the land for those uses, with precautions taken to prevent soil erosion and water pollution. Keep you site covered. Disturbances of ground cover (grasses, trees or shrubs) will expose soil, leading to erosion and slope failure. Use hay or straw as mulch to cover disturbed areas after reseeding. Consider working only in a small area and stabilizing that site before disturbing another. Also minimize disturbances to plants and trees. Select and save trees to gain time in landscaping later. Maintain filler strips of vegetation along the banks of the lake and its contributing streams. The best filler strip is mature woodland with undisturbed grass and shrub layers.
If ground cover must be removed, grade to minimize and control runoff and plant a permanent cover on all areas that have been disturbed as soon as possible. Native trees and shrubs are excellent at protecting soil from rain and are practical erosion control measures. They also create a landscape that needs minimal maintenance and is more natural.
The above information is just a sample of the issues and BMPs offered by the Lake*A*Syst program. See the attached pdf file for full content.