You Are Part Of The Puzzle
What We Can All Do To Improve And Protect Lake Water Quality
The water quality of Lake Spokane is a large puzzle with many pieces. It involves two states, five hydroelectric dams upstream, seven municipal and industrial dischargers with permits to put wastewater in the Spokane River, and you, the individuals who live around the lake. It is always easiest to look at what the other group is doing to affect the lake and often difficult to see what we are doing to degrade the lake’s water quality.
Each one of us has the potential to be a positive influence or a negative influence on the quality of the water in our watershed. In the case of Lake Spokane, how we fertilize our lawns, how we dispose of our lawn clippings, how we handle animal waste (both large animals like horses and cows and smaller ones like our dog or cat), how we manage the land near the lake, and how we care for our onsite septic system are all important elements for keeping the lake clean and not green with algae. So what can each of us do?
• Only use phosphorus fertilizers when you are establishing a new lawn. Once established, phosphorus free fertilizers applied at the recommended rate are sufficient to maintain the lawn. Don’t apply fertilizer before a storm as it may wash off and run into surface water.
• Keep your lawn clippings out of the lake or the street as they may get washed into the lake. A backyard composting system for your clippings will give you a good source of mulch and nutrients to be applied to flower beds and around bushes.
• Take care of the waste generated by your animals. With the dogs and cats, pick it up before it can get washed into the lake. For larger animals, have a manure management plan that will not allow the nutrients to leach into the groundwater or be washed off during a rainstorm. Manure management not only aids water quality, but it contributes to a healthier environment for your animals.
• Control soil erosion around your home. When soil is left bare, it can easily be washed away by rain, carrying phosphorus with it. Soil erosion can be prevented by keeping soil covered with vegetation or mulch. Vegetative buffers between your property and the lake will help to keep nutrients from entering the lake.
• Onsite septic systems are generally out of sight, out of mind. We can help keep our system working properly by not flushing solid wastes into the system, by not pouring strong chemical such as cleaning products down the drain, not constructing anything on the drain field, and don’t dispose of water from hot tubs into the septic system.
To learn more about what you can do to help improve, protect, or maintain lake water quality, call Stevens County Conservation District (509) 685-0937 and ask for Charlie Kessler or Dean Hellie. The District is non-regulatory and has considerable information to help landowners manage their land and water resources.
For septic system information, contact Matt Schanz at Northeast Tri County Health District, (509) 684-2262.
Northeast Tri County Health District has a loan program to help people repair or replace failing septic systems. A meeting describing the loan program and care and maintenance of your septic system will be held at the Lakeside Community Library at 7:00 p.m. on Monday June 25th.