Love Our Lakes Project

Love Our Lakes Project

What is the ‘Love Our Lakes’ Campaign?

Love Our Lakes is a campaign to increase understanding of and appreciation for all our lakes. If we realize the value of our lakes and other water assets, then we can have a better chance of having them for our children, grandchildren or great grandchildren to enjoy. Most people do not know how our lakes came to be, what has changed them in the past, and what is threatening them now.

Did you know…?

  • There are 10 lakes within and around the City of
    La Porte

  • There used to be 17 lakes. . . what happened to them?

  • There are even more lakes connected to La Porte County. . . including the great Lake Michigan!

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.

Regardless of where you live, you are part of a watershed – a region where water flows across of under the ground on its way to a lake, river, stream, reservoir or ocean. Year-round lawn and yard care practices impact water quality even if you don’t live near a water body.

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?

Runoff from unused phosphorus in lawn fertilizer moves across lawns, roads and woods into streams and ditches, and eventually into reservoirs and lakes. The majority of Indiana soils already contain adequate amounts of phosphorus for a healthy lawn, so most lawns don’t need the extra food.

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.

As watersheds are converted from their natural state to residential, commercial or industrial uses, the amount of phosphorus runoff into a lake can increase five to ten times. Green lakes impact a community in several ways. Poor water quality significantly reduces recreational use of the water body. It also reduces property values.

The solution to phosphorus runoff is to control the source. Using phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer is one easy way anyone can contribute to better water quality – regardless of where you live. When shopping for lawn fertilizer, look for the three numbers on the lawn fertilizer bag (photo above). The middle number indicates the phosphorus content of the fertilizer, so look for a zero. The other numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen (first number) and potassium (third number) in the fertilizer. Phosphorus is needed only on newly seeded lawns or where soil testing indicates a deficiency.

■  Have your soil tested. For information visit Purdue Cooperative Extension Service’s Web Site at or call your county Extension office (listed at and in the county government section of the phone book).

■  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

Grass clippings contain all the nutrients found in your turf grass; including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Sound familiar? These are the elements found in most fertilizers. When grass clippings are left on your lawn, they will break down and serve as beneficial, natural and free fertilizer to nourish you lawn and soil.

On the other hand, when grass clippings break down in a water body; they can cause nasty algae blooms that can make our lakes and ponds green, scummy and smelly.

Please make sure you and your landscape professional keep grass clippings on the yard and out of roads, storm drains, lakes and ponds. Your yard and pond will thank you.

Vegetation is an essential element of stormwater retention ponds. A planted shoreline buffer above the water provides a barrier to absorb fertilizer nutrients before they reach the pond. Algae growth in the water rely on nutrients to thrive, and aquatic plantings compete with algae for nutrients. Not only do these plants keep our lakes algae free, but they can help attract birds and other wildlife too!

Plant harvesting is also an important way to remove nutrients from the pond system. Plant litter should be removed to prevent nutrients the plant absorbed from being release back into the water.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Office of Water Quality

Watershed Planning Branch

(317) 233-8488

(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

(317) 692-7325

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.

Love Our Lakes Inaugural Project

The Pine Lake Avenue Project

While there is a rich history of people protecting our lakes, this project hopes to provide an important link in the chain connecting people with our natural resources. The ultimate goal for this project is to create a beautiful public space – right on Pine Lake, to be enjoyed by everyone for generations to come.

While there is a rich history of people protecting our lakes, this project hopes to provide an important link in the chain connecting people with our natural resources. The ultimate goal for this project is to create a beautiful public space – right on Pine Lake, to be enjoyed by everyone for generations to come.

  • It is right at La Porte’s front door
  • Near another treasure – Kiwanis Teledyne Park
  • There is very little public space on North Pine Lake
  • Fantastic view of the lake
  • May be able to minimize environmental impacts of other developments there
  • Right place at the right time
  • The lakes are an important part of our identities and family memories 0 Can you imagine this “City of Lakes” without any lakes? The lakes should always be a draw and a delight!
  • Welcomes visitors, families or potential businesses looking to locate here
  • Enriches quality of life and makes Pine Lake available to everyone
  • Love Our Lakes campaign can energize the community and build community pride

Threats include:

  • E-coli and other bacteria that threaten human and wildlife health
  • Run-off of fluids, salt, phosphorus, dirt or chemicals that are toxic or clogging
  • Water level fluctuation
  • Illegal filling in of our surface water resources
  • Pollutants, trash and dumping

Initially, Unity Foundation of La Porte County and La Porte Park Foundation came together. We cannot do this alone! The Love Our Lakes campaign wishes to create an ever-widening circle of champions to complete and steward this inaugural project. Next, we’ll find other ways to show our love and gratitude for our lakes.

  • Make a pledge of tax-deductible gift to help us complete and maintain the property at 1010 Pine Lake Avenue
  • Get others involved
  • Consider becoming a sustaining partner for this and future Love Our Lakes projects – whether you’re an individual, family or organization
  • Make your own submissions to the website or Facebook page! Get your own family involved with it. Visit the sites regularly to see what others have submitted