Recreational Impacts on Lake Health

By D.Ernes – Lake Management Committee

One of the main activities on our lake during the summer months is boating. Arguably, it is one of the main reasons to own property on or near a lake. If you have gone to recent Board meetings and the Annual meeting, boating safety has been a major topic of discussion. This is mainly directed to the increased incidence of boaters and other powered watercraft users ignoring the no-wake areas. But there is also a negative effect of boating at fast speeds in no-wake areas on the health of the lake.

As the lake depth becomes shallower, such as along the shore or in the coves, the action of the propeller can stir up the sediment on the lake bottom. This can increase the turbidity of the lake and release more nutrients to the lake surface, which can increase the likelihood of algal blooms. It can also disturb the plants and animals who may reside along the lake bottom that are vital to the lake. It can take up to 24 hours for the sediment to resettle on the lake bottom. The literature states that turbulence from a propeller can reach up to 10 feet below the water surface. This can reach even further, and with more energy, with wake boats. In addition to this, most of the lake-front properties have retaining walls, which are effective at reflecting the turbulence back out into the lake, and cause more mixing if one is speeding too close to the shore.

Some wake boats can have another impact. Depending on the design, they may lower the rear of the boat by injecting lake water into a ballast. If one moves this type of boat from another lake to ours without flushing these ballasts, it is possible that invasive species of plants, and animals can be introduced into our lake. This is what happened in Lake Erie with the zebra mussels from cargo boats.

So, obeying the no-wake zones in the coves and within 75 feet of the shores is a good idea. It makes it safer for those who may use kayaks and paddleboards as well as swimmers. It also helps to protect the health of the lake.

BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE

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