Birch Trees


From the Minnesota Lakes Association Reporter; Volume 7, Number 2, Page 12

Phosphorus is a necessary and natural element found in soils, rocks and our bodies. An essential nutrient for animals and plants, it is also a common nutrient in fertilizers. However, the phosphorus that makes your lawn and garden green can also make the lake green. Of all elements, phosphorus is the key to managing lakes as 'clean' and not 'green'. One pound of phosphorus can produce 500 pounds of algae!

Keeping phosphorus out of the lake is one of the most important things that we can do to protect water quality. Here are a few simple ways you can help reduce phosphorus inputs to your lake:

  • Properly operate and maintain septic systems; pump at least every three years.
  • Immediately repair or replace non-complying septic systems.
  • Develop and maintain a shoreline vegetation buffer.
  • Use zero-phosphorus lawn fertilizer.
  • Limit the use of pesticides and other garden chemicals.
  • Keep bonfires away from the lake, and clean up all ash.
  • Use phosphorus-free dishwasher detergents.
  • Clean up pet waste.
  • Cover loose soil areas with vegetation and remedy any shoreline erosion problems.

What's In Our Water?

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) launched a Whats In Our Water summer education initiative to explain why many Minnesota lakes turn green with algae every summer and what Minnesotans can do about it. The initiative features community outreach events, targeted radio and billboard advertising, and web resources. "More than 100 lakes in Minnesota have been identified as 'impaired' due to excessive nutrients, such as phoshorus by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency," said Don Arnosti of MEP, a statewide coalition of 80 conservation and environmental organizations, including MLA. "Most lakes remain untested, but just by looking citizens can see their lakes have turned green with algae blooms, primarily caused by excessive phosphorus in the lakes." For info on what you can do to reduce phosphorus pollution see


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