In response to the growing problem of erosion in the Lakes Region, the Lakes Environmental Association, or LEA, has recently produced a five-point lesson for homeowners to protect their lakes and shorelines.

According to Peter Lowell, executive director of the LEA, erosion, which is “quite bad” on many properties in the Lakes Region, is detrimental to both the shoreline and the quality of the water.

“Most of erosion comes from roads and road systems,” he said, adding that sedimentation can also run off into lake from lawns that lack vegetation and rocks, which normally can trap nutrients before entering the water.

Here are the LEA’s lessons:

1. Don’t fight nature. Homeowners run the risk of surface runoff, which increases erosion, by removing the natural landscape, such as rocks and vegetation, for the sake of having a lawn.

By leaving the landscape as is, with rocks and vegetation already present, homeowners can help stabilize their shoreline.

Roger Wheeler, president of Friends of Sebago Lake, said he has begun the work to repair his shoreline on Long Point on Sebago Lake to prevent any further erosion. He’s been working on a terraced trail near his home which helps secure the shoreline.

“I’m going to Busque’s gravel pit to get some rocks to place along the shoreline. There’s been a terrible amount of erosion on this lake,” he said.

Those who rip-rap, or stone armor, the shoreline like Wheeler, need to buy a permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, before they go to work, which costs $55, according to Dana Murch, the DEP’s dams and hydroelectric supervisor.

2. According to the LEA, “about 85 percent of all erosion and sedimentation problems within a watershed originate from camp roads and driveways.”

The LEA recommends to homeowners to build roads above ground level, grade them regularly, align the roads with ditches to catch runoff and drain it away from the lake, and create a slight ridge in the middle of the road to also drain water.

“This is extremely important from a water quality standpoint and a cost maintenance standpoint. If you take the time to construct roads properly, you will save money,” said Lowell.

According to Lowell, the LEA will evaluate a road for free, and give recommendations and guidance.

3. A home should be built with erosion in mind, as erosion is the number one source of pollution in Maine’s surface waters, according to Lowell.

Line crushed stone along the length of the house to catch runoff from the roof.

While the house is being built, “erosion control measures such as silt fences, mulch berms, and hay bale barriers should be installed,” according to the LEA.

“You’re paying for all that stuff,” Lowell said. “Make sure that the site has a good erosion perimeter… just use common sense. Don’t pay twice for your property.”

4. Check your septic tank. The LEA recommends that homeowners pump their tank every two years or when it is half-full. Septic spillage is a dangerous pollutant.

“The big incentive is if you don’t check the tank regularly you’ll have to build another septic system. And it’s a huge health hazard,” Lowell said.

5. Look for milfoil and other invasive plants. According to the LEA, invasive plants can “change ecosystems, ruin recreation and severely reduce tourism and lakefront property values.”

Scott Lowell (no relation), president of the Little Sebago Lake Association, said that invasive plants are a serious problem for Maine lakes, as they feed on the nutrients that spill into the water from roads and lawns lacking vegetation and rocks.

“Erosion is having a very large impact on our lakes… we’re seeing that in a lot of different ways. The quality of the water tends to go downhill” due to development, he said. “It’s an issue that doesn’t get addressed enough.”

For more information on erosion and lakes issues, go to the LEA’s Web site

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