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Keep Seneca Lake PURE! You can help!

Help keep our local water source, pure and clean.  Preserve Seneca Lake for future generations.

  1. Reduce Impermeable Surfaces:  There are ways to lessen your impermeable footprint. Keep paved areas as small as possible, or try using permeable surfaces such as gravel, or perforated pavers. Stone pathways or stepping stones instead of poured concrete or asphalt paths look great and are permeable. Rooftops can be minimized by building up – not out- on lakeshore lots, utilizing a small footprint, but gaining area on multiple levels.
  2. Limit Lawn Size:  Only create as much lawn as you will need for outside activities. Lawns absorb less rainfall than natural areas of multiple layers of vegetation. A canopy of trees, an understory of smaller trees and shrubs, and a groundcover of ferns and other plants is optimal. Duff is the term for the natural byproduct of all these plants and will collect on the forest floor over time, and that will protect the soil in place instead of letting it erode away. Let nature be your guide, and with more natural topography, this will allow for water to collect in low spots and have time to soak in.
  3. Use Water Wisely: Use water wisely around the yard to help prevent pollution from storm water runoff. Use an irrigation system that minimizes evaporation or better yet, landscape with native plants that won’t need irrigation once they are established. Rain barrels are a great way to collect runoff from your roof that can then used to water your garden. Don’t direct any downspouts onto impermeable surfaces, let them drain into the lawn or rain garden.
  4. Minimize Erosion:  Minimize erosion when you are undertaking a construction project. Check to see if you need a permit, and have a plan in place to control erosion by preserving existing vegetation where possible. Avoid parking or driving heavy machinery near trees as soil compaction can damage roots. Build a gravel access drive to limit compaction and limit the mud that is tracked to hard surfaces where water shed can allow it to flow into the lake. A silt fence or straw bales trap sediment on the downslope side of the lot. Protect soil piles with tarps and keep them away from roadways. Replant as soon as possible so that there is not bare soil. Divert runoff around disturbed areas to minimize erosion.
  5. Be Smart About Lawn Care: Be smart about lawn care. Fertilizers, leaves, grass clippings, animal waste, and eroded soil are all sources of phosphorus and should be kept out of the lake. Se fertilizer smartly, at the right time, not before a storm when rain can just wash it all away. Yard waste should be bagged, composted, or left on the lawn as natural fertilizer. Mow higher by allowing grass to grow to 2 ½- 3 inches as it’s healthier for the lawn and you can mow less often. Pick up pet waste and flush it in the toilet or place in the garbage. Keep soil healthy by using compost and other natural amendments. Healthy soils are more resistant to disease and insect problems. Use pesticides sparingly and only when really needed, making sure to follow the label directions carefully, the timing is often critical to it’s success. Try organic products first, and only use chemicals as a last resort.
  6. Only use Phosphorus-Free Fertilizer: Phosphorus free fertilizer is the only way to go if you really must fertilize. Look for the three numbers in fertilizer bags showing the N-P-K nutrient analysis. A “zero” in the middle means it is phosphorus-free. Soils in most parts of NY already have an adequate amount of phosphorus to grow a healthy lawn. If you think your soil needs phosphorus, you can have your soil tested thru for local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for a reasonable fee.
  7. Maintain Your Septic System:  Maintaining your septic system not only protects the lake from contaminates, but also protects your health and your investment in your home. Household wastewater not only includes nitrogen and phosphorus, but also disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Know the signs of a failed system and when you can see or smell your tank, or fixtures back up, call a professional right away. Investigate alternative systems that are now available for situations when there are unsuitable soils, high bedrock or groundwater, or a small lot size. Regular inspection of the system, and pumping the tank as necessary is always good every 3-5 years, although it depends on how much your system is used. Don’t dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets. This includes paints, chemicals, cleaners, gasoline, oil, or other toxic materials that could kill the good bacteria in your system. Care for your drainfield, by planting only grass or appropriate ground cover and keep surface water runoff away to avoid flooding it. As always use water efficiently, less water helps means the system will operate properly and reduce stress and lower the risk of failure.
  8. Don’t Flush Your Drugs:  Don’t flush your drugs, because we now know that such actions can have many detrimental effects on our water sources. A nationwide study found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the rivers and streams tested throughout the U.S. The best option is to take medications to a special local collection site or event.   Go to www.dontflushyourdrugs.net to find a collection event in your area.
  9. Maintain Your Vehicles:  Maintain your vehicles that are parked on your watershed property. Cars don’t just have air pollution risks, but all the fluids found in a car can be very detrimental to water quality as well.   Be sure that your car is not leaking oil or other fluids onto your driveway or onto the road where it can be washed into nearby waterways. If you change your own oil, use an oil pan to catch any drips and if you have a spill, don’t wash it into the nearest storm drain with a hose. Instead, clean it up with as absorbent material such as kitty litter and then dispose of it properly. If you can’t take your car to be washed at a commercial car wash where the wash water is captured, cleaned, recycled, and reused, wash your car on your lawn, so the soapy water containing phosphorous and other chemicals have a better chance of filtering out in the soil before it enters the lake where it can harm fish and water quality.
  10. Conserve Water:  Conserve water in your home and the results are beneficial in so many ways. You can save about 750 gallons a month by installing high efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, and turning off faucets while shaving , brushing teeth, and defrosting food in the refrigerator instead of under running water. Fixing leaking faucets, and replacing old appliances with new high-efficiency models with the Energy Star label that use less water, can save about 7,000 gallons of water a year! Composting vegetable waste instead of using the garbage disposal is a win/win. Only run the dishwasher when full. Conserving water is just the right thing to do and it helps maintain your septic system.
  11. Reduce Household Hazardous Wastes: Anything flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive such as, gasoline, oil, solvents, paints, paint thinners, fertilizers, pesticides, cleaner, and batteries can be harmful to water sources. Use these products with care to avoid damaging your health, and prevent them from entering our environment. Use the smallest amount possible and try to use non-toxic, biodegradable products when available, recycle products or share with a neighbor. Clean paint brushes and other painting supplies in a sink, not outside, and follow the directions on the label and store properly to avoid leaks or spills. Safely dispose of them at a household hazardous waste collection event.
  12. Install a Vegetative Buffer:  Install a vegetative buffer and use lake friendly landscaping practices, not traditional lawn landscaping as used in other suburban neighborhoods. Traditional lawns on a lakeshore lot can cause excessive plant and algal growth, shoreline erosion and sedimentation, loss of wildlife habitat, an increase in nuisance animals, and loss of leisure time when you have to mow it! A vegetative buffer is a strip of natural vegetation and should cover at least 50-75 of the property’s lake frontage. Restoring the shoreline with native plants, you restore the ecological functions of the lakeshore as it acts as a filtration point for pollutants and sediments, it absorbs nutrients, deters nuisance species like Canada geese that love short tender grass, provides privacy from lake users, and is low maintenance when compared to groomed landscaping.
  13. Plant a Rain Garden:  Plant a rain garden to collect rainwater and filter storm water runoff before it enters a waterway. This will help alleviate problems with flooding and drainage. It can enhance the beauty of yards and communities and provide habitat and food for wildlife like birds and butterflies. It reduces the need for expensive stormwater treatment structures in your community.
  14. Go Native: Native plants help protect New York’s biodiversity, save you time and money because they are already adapted to survive here and are low maintenance and don’t need lots of fertilizer, pesticides, and watering. Their deep roots absorb and filter runoff more effectively than the short roots of many turf grasses and other ornamental plants.
  15. Join Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association Today!
    Since it’s inception 25 years ago, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has evolved to incorporate and address the changing needs of the lake to keep it a pure source of water for future generations.