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Lake Detroiters Association

What does every lakeshore property owner need to know?  CLICK HERE


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What do you do if you want more sand on your beach?

This will provide more information on a Beach Blanket

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Lake Stewardship: What can an Individual do?

Good stewardship by the individual, whether a lake homeowner or simply a lake user, can do much to enhance the lake environment and serve as a beginning for sound lake management. Although most of the following comments are directed to lake homeowners, many also apply to those who live anywhere within a lake’s watershed. One of the most important things an individual can do is to get involved with other concerned citizens. Your collective efforts will yield the greatest dividends for you and the lake.

Here’s what you can do to protect and improve a lake by minimizing polluted runoff into the lake.

1. Siting the House and Other Facilities

  • Don’t let your house intrude upon the lake. Locate a new house and any future additions to meet horizontal setback and vertical elevation requirements and to avoid damage if the lake rises dramatically in the future. Preserve as much natural vegetation as possible between the house and the lake to filter sediments and nutrients out of surface runoff.
  • You’ll also need to consider other facilities, particularly wells and septic systems, when siting your house. The septic system should receive priority since adequate soil conditions are necessary for its proper functioning. Site evaluators and many sewage system installers can conduct soil borings and percolation tests and consult soil maps and data to determine the best location on your lot. Wells should be located upslope from sewage systems and be deep and cased whenever possible. A site sketch of your lot, drawn to scale, will help you decide the best locations for all facilities and is often required when obtaining permits.
  • Contact your county zoning officer to determine what permits will be needed and what standards must be met. Take a personal interest in meeting the regulations. Don’t leave the arrangements entirely to your contractors.
  • If a standard septic tank and drainfield system is unsuited for your lot, you may have to use an approved alternative system such as a mound system. On some lots a holding tank may be the only feasible system.
  • Make sure your contractors know which trees you want to save. Fence off areas to protect trees and roots from construction damage.
  • Don’t put a road or wide path down to the lake. Curve any path you do build to the lake. Consider a wooden stairway rather than a road if you need access along a steep slope.

2. Altering the Waterfront

  • If you want a sandy beach for swimming, try to buy a lot with a natural beach. Sand dumped on the shore to create a beach can seriously affect the habitat of fish birds, frogs and aquatic insects.
  • Make waterfront equipment such as docks and boat houses as unobtrusive as possible. Avoid structures that require much tree clearing, excavating or filling.

3. Modifying Yard Care

  • Think twice before putting in a lawn-you may not need one in a lake setting. Maintain as wide a buffer zone of natural vegetation as possible between the lawn and the water’s edge.
  • Minimize the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, which can harm the lake.
  • Don’t burn brush or leaves on a slope from which ashes can wash into the lake. 4. Taking Care of Your Septic System
  • Don’t let your septic system pollute the lake. Have your septic tank checked every other year and pumped when necessary.
  • Use nonphosphate detergents, wash only full loads of clothes, and use water- saving showers and toilets to avoid stressing your septic system. (In Minnesota, phosphates in household laundry detergents have been banned since 1977.)
  • Do not use a garbage disposal, and keep solvents, plastics, paper diapers and other similar products out of your septic system.