All Lawns Can Impact
Water Quality

Even if you live far from a lake or river, your lawn and household maintenance can affect water quality. This is because everyone lives in a watershed!

A "watershed" or "basin" is the surrounding land that drains into a water body. For example, the land shown below drains into rivers and eventually Lake Champlain by surface runoff after rainfalls. In urban areas, many municipal storm drains send untreated runoff directly to lakes and rivers.
Click for a larger map in the Lake Champlain Atlas

Learn more about watersheds and storm water at these websites:

Phosphorus - Lake Champlain Basin Atlas

Phosphorus Pollution (Lake Champlain Basin Program)

Rethink Runoff

Surf Your Watershed - Find Your Watershed with a Zip code

Watersheds and Tributaries - Lake Champlain Basin Atlas

What's the Fuss About Phosphorus?

In cities and suburbs, the incremental runoff of the nutrient phosphorus (P) from sources like lawn fertilizer—whether organic or conventional—is a serious concern because it feeds algae and weeds in waterways. About half of Lake Champlain's phosphorus problem is from developed lands and one acre of urban/suburban land contributes about four times more phosphorus to the Lake than one acre of farm land!

Storms drain carry untreated runoff to waterways.Developed land has many impervious surfaces, such as paved roads, sidewalks and roofs. When it rains, these impervious surfaces rush pollutants into storm drains that lead directly to waterways.

blue-green algaeResearch suggests that just one pound of phosphorus can feed 300-500 pounds of algae in a water body. While most algae blooms are generally harmless to humans, decomposing algae and weeds take up oxygen in the water that is vital to fish and other animals. Furthermore, algae and weeds discourage swimmers, anglers, and boaters—and even lower property values. Phosphorus also feeds toxic blooms of blue-green algae (actually a bacteria called cyanobacteria) that are occasionally found in the parts of Lake Champlain. In recent summers, cyanobacteria blooms have caused beach closings and health alerts in parts of northern Lake Champlain.

Please don't feed the algae—switch to phosphorus-free fertilizer!

Learn more about phosphorus

More lake-friendly tips

website by Lake Champlain Basin Program