Did you know?
Clean water in our lakes, reservoirs and streams starts at home with basic practices YOU can incorporate into your lawn care program. Click the drop down sections below to learn more about lawn care, water quality, and what you can do to help to preserve, protect, and restore our lakes.
Water Quality Begins at Home
Thanks to sound science, we now understand how phosphorus-containing lawn fertilizers contribute to poor water quality. Phosphorus, the middle number on the lawn fertilizer bag, is present in all living things – including soil. However, too much phosphorus disrupts nature’s balance. how and why does this imbalance occur?
There's a Pipeline From Your Lawn to a Water Body
Phosphorus is “junk food” for algae present in a reservoir, lake or stream. One pound of phosphorus can produce 10,000 pounds of wet weeds and algae. As you can see from the photo, when phosphorus is washed into the lakes, the algae grows out of control (known as repeated algae bloom), reducing clarity and visibility. Some forms of blue-green algae can be toxic.
Repeated algae blooms create “green” lakes, which can:
■ Cause fish kills or loss of cold water fish habitat;
■ Add a foul taste and smell to the drinking water;
■ Become a neighborhood nuisance; and
■ Produce poor water quality for fish, wildlife and humans.
The Economic Impact
Is There a solution?
What You Can Do!
■ Use phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer! Your local nursery or landscape supply store should have phosphorus-free fertilizers in stock. In not, ask the manager to order it.
■ Apply fertilizer only when it is needed, during the right season, and in proper amounts.
■ Avoid getting fertilizer on driveways, sidewalks and storm drains. Above all, fertilize carefully. Don’t let your fertilizer application get into lakes, streams or ponds.
■ Use a mulching mower and cut no more than the top third of the grass.
■ Clean up after your pet. Pet waste contains phosphorus.
■ Prevent soil erosion by covering the ground with vegetation or mulch.
■ Keep leaves, grass clippings and soil out of streets and gutters. Compost leaves and clippings on site, bag them for collection or use a community compost program. Registered organic recycling and composting facilities are listed at www.IN.gov/idem/oppta/recycling/organics/programs/compostfacility.html.
For More Information
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Office of Water Quality
Watershed Planning Branch
(800) 451-6027/(toll-free in Indiana)
The goal of the Watershed Planning Branch of IDEM’s Office of Water Quality is to achieve improvements in Indiana’s surface water quality. The branch uses several tools to achieve this goal – total maximum daily load calculations, watershed management grants, technical assistance and education.
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
The mission of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts is to represent soil and water conservation districts as one voice, and to assist the leadership of local SWCDs through coordination and education for the wise use and management of our natural resources.