Ten Ways to Protect Lake Superior (or your local watershed)
- Know where the water goes. We all live in a watershed, and the water that runs off our property eventually runs into a storm drain, creek, stream, and likely a lake. In Duluth and along the North Shore, that runoff goes into Lake Superior.
- Build a rain garden in your yard's low spot to catch fast-flowing runoff from storms. Rain gardens are usually dry but use native plants that can survive standing water for a day or two until the stormwater soaks in or evaporates. See Gardens for a Rainy Day.
- Build or buy a rain barrel. Catch and save water from your home's rain gutters, then use that water for lawn or garden.
- Don't let leaves, grass clippings, sand, or other debris onto the street and into storm drains, which run into streams and lakes. Yard waste can add nutrients, increase siltation, and carry contaminates such as motor oil to the water
- Never pour anything down a storm drain. The water is not treated before it goes into streams and lakes.
- When building, preserve wetlands and trees. Design walkways, driveways, and parking areas with materials that let water to soak through.
- Clean up after pets. University of Minnesota-Duluth studies using DNA fingerprinting show that high levels of bacteria in North Shore streams, and likely Lake Superior beaches, are from animal and not human waste. Much of that waste comes from wild critters such as gulls, geese and deer, but much also comes from pets.
- Don't use chemicals on your lawn. Excess fertilizer and pesticides wash off the land and into the water. That can increase algae in the lake near streams.
- Convince local officials to leave ample waterfront areas undeveloped. For example, conservation easements protect much of the Grand Marais shoreline, a natural buffer to runoff and erosion.
- Reduce mercury pollution and greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. Start with simple steps such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, using public transportation, and buying appliances with the Energy Star label.
by John Myers
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