Lakes are complex and ever-changing. There is no static, ideal lake condition, they evolve over time. Lakes can be formed by geologic events, as well as by humans or beavers. Lakes occur in low-laying depressions that form basins to collect precipitation and stormwater, and they can be influenced by groundwater as well.
Lake water levels may drop by evaporation during warm weather, lowering of the groundwater table during dry months, and through stream outlets.
View the Introductions to Lakes slideshow to get a better understanding of lake issues and terminology.
Factors that can lead to poor water quality include: shoreline armoring, invasive species, excess nutrients, nearby/leaky septic systems, use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, wildlife and pet waste, lack of nearshore vegetation, detergents, illegal dumping (including into stormwater drains), and polluted stormwater inputs.
The good news is that there are many things that individuals can do to protect and improve water quality. What you do on your property goes downhill and ultimately impacts the lake, groundwater or nearby water body. Simple things everyone can do:
Don’t dump anything down the street gutters or storm drains – these are usually untreated and go straight to nearby streams and waterbodies.
If you wash your car at home, do so on your lawn or gravel so that water infiltrates into the ground. Better yet, take it to a commercial car wash.