Protecting Lake Health During Mud Season

Mud season poses a threat to the health of our lakes. As the snow melts and the rain comes in spring, pollutants and sediment get picked up by runoff and washed into waterbodies. These pollutants disrupt the delicate balance of lake ecosystems. Sediment harms aquatic habitats, disturbs ecosystems, and degrades water quality.

You and your community can help by checking for and stopping pollution sources on your property or the land surrounding your lake. This is important all year round, especially during mud season.

Preventing Spring Runoff and Pollution

The effects of mud season are easy to spot in lakes. If you see cloudy water in the lake near your home, take a minute to check your property for the source. The dirty water contains nutrients such as phosphorus that can fuel the growth of harmful plants, algae, and toxic cyanobacteria.

nh lakes polluted runoff

By following the steps outlined below, you can prevent your property from adding pollutants to the lake.

Understand your property and where the water flows

  • Every roof, walking path, tree, and bush changes how rain and snowmelt run off your property, especially when the ground is still thawing. Areas where water can infiltrate, or soak into the ground, are key for reducing sediment and other pollutants from washing into the stream or lake. 
  • During a rainstorm, watch for areas where water runs and pools. Consider adding vegetation and infiltration areas to help divert and soak up runoff.

Ensure proper road and driveway drainage 

  • Drainage systems, such as ditches and culverts, help channel excess water away from vulnerable areas and towards stormwater management practices that are resilient to the frozen ground, such as dry wells, swales, or filter strips. 
  • A professional can help you determine what will work best for your property. Reach out to one of our LakeSmart Service Providers, who is invested in protecting the lake. Find a lake-friendly professional here to help.

Maintain vegetation

  • Healthy shoreline vegetation plays a crucial role in stabilizing soil and preventing erosion year-round, especially during mud season when the ground is thawing and is less stable. 
  • Learn more about the benefits of vegetation and how to plan your own gardens from our blog, “Plant Your Property for Healthy Lakes.”

Stabilize surfaces 

  • Stable surfaces limit muddy conditions and reduce erosion.
  • Use materials such as gravel, undyed mulch, or natural woodchips to stabilize areas where people walk and drive.

Maintain septic systems 

  • Proper maintenance of septic systems is essential year-round. But it’s especially crucial during mud season when the ground is still thawing, and groundwater levels are high.
  • Learn about lake-friendly septic maintenance from our blog, “Septic Systems for Healthy Lakes.

Watch where you walk 

  • Walking or driving on wet, muddy ground can cause soil erosion and increase sediment flow into the lake.
  • Encourage people to stick to the designated paths on your property to reduce these muddy areas.

Practice responsible pet ownership

  • Pet waste contains harmful bacteria and nutrients that can contaminate lakes.
  • If you’re a pet owner, be mindful of where your furry friends roam during mud season. Always clean up after your pets and dispose of their waste properly.

Mud season is the least favorite for many of us in New Hampshire. But we can take advantage of this messy time by monitoring our properties for potential problem areas and making changes for healthier lakes—and cleaner yards and homes! 

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