We all need to take personal responsibility for the health of Lake Champlain. That's why the Lake Champlain Committee has put together a list of actions, the Lake Protection Pledge (pdf), you can take to protect water quality around your home, in your garage, and around your community.
Fill out the online pledge form below to commit to taking personal action to protect the health of the lake.
AROUND THE HOME
- Dispose of pharmaceuticals at Drug Take Back days or at safe disposal boxes at law enforcement agencies; never flush medicines down a toilet or drain.
- Position gutters to drain onto grass, soil or into a rain barrel.
- This lets the water filter into the ground rather than flowing directly to streams.
- Clean up pet waste at home and when walking the dog. Dog and cat wastes contain high levels of bacteria harmful to people and the lake. Deposit pet poop in toilets or garbage cans.
- Use permeable pavement for driveways and walkways. They allow rainwater and snowmelt and the pollution they carry to drain into the ground rather than run off untreated into waterways.
- Never dump toxic materials down stormdrains, garage drains, or on the ground. Waste dumped in stormdrains or on the ground is not treated before it enters waterways.
- Keep stormdrains and ditches clear of debris. Debris prevents proper drainage and can cause flooding.
- Conserve water to reduce loads to wastewater treatment plants, save energy and costs. Fix leaks, add faucet aerators, and replace showerheads and toilets with low-flow models when upgrading. Choose EPA WaterSense-labeled fixtures for greater efficiency and performance.
- Use non-phosphate dishwasher detergents, it’s the law. Check labels - excess phosphorus leads to cyanobacteria and blooms that can turn toxic. .
- Have your septic tank inspected and pumped regularly. Without regular checks and pumping, septic systems can fail, causing severe water quality problems and costly repairs.
AROUND THE YARD
- Don’t use phosphorus-based fertilizer on your lawn or garden unless a soil test indicates you need it. It’s the law in NY & VT. Most lawns don’t need fertilizer, and whatever excess is applied ends up in the water, feeding algae and cyanobacteria growth.
- Use compost and mulch to improve soil health. These products release their nutrients slowly, providing long- term feed for your lawn and garden.
- Landscape with native groundcover and shrubs instead of lawn. Plants naturally adapted to local conditions require less maintenance and fertilizer.
- Choose drought-tolerant and pest-resistant plants. This minimizes the need for pesticides and excess watering.
- Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. They kill beneficial organisms as well as bothersome ones. When it rains, they wash into stormdrains and streams. Non-toxic insecticidal soaps, dormant oil sprays and "helpful insects" such as ladybugs can keep pests at bay just as well.
- Raise the blade of your lawn mower and cut your lawn to three inches to encourage a stronger root system that captures rainfall and lessens the need to water during a dry spell.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings and other organic matter provide natural slow-release fertilizer and improve the lawn‘s ability to hold water.
- Maintain a vegetated buffer along the stream, river or lake if you live along a shoreline. Buffer strips shade the stream, filter runoff, stabilize streambanks, prevent erosion and provide habitat for animals.
- Water in the early morning to prevent losing water to evaporation during mid-day. Water slowly and deeply to avoid surface runoff, inspect hoses for leaks and direct overhead sprinklers toward vegetation and away from the street or driveway.
- Avoid over-watering. Excess water runs off the lawn into the stormdrain system.
- Install rain barrels to collect water from rooftops to water your lawn and garden. An inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof will contribute about 600 gallons of water.
- Re-seed thin areas in the lawn to prevent erosion and keep soil from running off into waterways.
AROUND THE GARAGE AND TOWN
- Avoid single-use items like plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids, cutlery, bags, plastic wrap, products with microbeads and microplastics and “free” gifts you don’t need.
- Wash the car at a commercial car wash where the water is collected and recycled. If you wash at home clean vehicles on lawn instead of pavement. This minimizes dirt and detergents entering streams through the stormdrain system. If washing at home, use environmentally-friendly soap products and shut the hose off between rinses.
- Maintain the car with regular tune-ups and check for leaks. Leaking fluids end up on parking lots and are washed into stormdrains and waterways during the next rain.
- Dispose of oil and antifreeze properly. Keep it out of stormdrains.
- Reduce automobile trips. Take a bus, ride a bike, walk or carpool whenever possible. The average car emits about 900 pounds of pollution into the air each year and some of this ends up in the lake.