The risk of Algae Blooms can be reduced by reducing the level of phosphate we let seep into the lakes. It comes from detergents and fertilizers.
Part of the solution is in the products we choose and part of the solution is in how we use them.
Any time soaps and fertilizers can travel easily to the lake, phosphates enter the water. Washing cars, bathing in the lake and allowing washing machines to drain directly into the soil are things we should avoid. A few natural plantings on our shorelines will slow down phosphates and allow them to break down before entering the water.
Here’s a Guide to Safe Soaps and Detergents, prepared by one of our members. Just click on the image.
Soaps and detergents are another concern. Many laundry detergents are Phosphate-free. Just check the label to see. Choose a good soap, and make sure it goes into your septic system — not into the ground. Bathing in the lake? You can guess where that soap goes…
TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) is a great cleaner, especially when you are staining over your old oil finishes with modern acrylic paint or stain. With the first rain, TSP will wash off of your cottage or house, and start towards the lake. Home Hardware has a Natura TSP substitute called Safe Prep. It works as well, and as a bonus, requires no rinsing (a huge time saving). It is often the same price or less than TSP.
Phosphates in Fertilizers
The level of phosphate can be found on the label of any fertilizer. It is the middle number.
I know we all love a few ripe tomatoes, but keeping fertilizers away from water is key. There are no farms running into Trout Lake, so the 25% increase in phosphates is likely due to increased population, clearing of native plants around the shoreline, and increased use of detergents.
(Image from A Homeowners Guide to Fertilizer)