What Residents Can Do:
Most residents and their guests intend to be good stewards of their own properties and the surrounding environment. Many of the practices that contribute to conservation of our beautiful watershed environs are intuitive; however, experience tells us that people are often surprised when they learn of suggested improvements to the "way things have always been done." The target of this section is to equip residents with everything we know about how we can best balance our presence in the watershed with the preservation of its beauty and purity.
From the TRWC BMP Study:
The last page in this Stewardship tab describes work adapted from guidelines for best management practices developed by another watershed coalition. Reprinted here are those BMPs that appliy directly to our residents. Also, several BMPs listed on the Commercial Operations page apply to building and renovation companies, and homeowners should also be read and understand the suggestions for appropriate practices listed there in order to ensure that the companies they engage are acting responsibly.
Other Best Management Practices for Residents:
In addition to those practices listed above, there are many other ways we have an impact on our surroundings, and the more we know about the practices that protect our spectacular environment, the better we can preserve it. Some "best practices" are obvious and are commonly followed in many households around the watershed. Others are less intuitive and not common practice along the waterfronts. We encourage residents to study and put into practice any or all of the following ideas for being great stewards of our watershed. And we invite other suggestions from our constituents for ideas that are not included in this section (please go to the "Contact Us" tab to add your thoughts).
IN THE HOME:
- Soaps/Detergents: Use no- or low-phosphate soaps and detergents, and never allow any phosphorus-containing soaps to wash directly into the river, lake or wetland. One pound of phosporus can grow up to 500 pounds of plants or algae. Detergents are surfactants, meaning they can cause foaming in the river, lake or wetland.
- Composting/Disposals: Consider composting leftovers rather than running them through the disposal and into your septic field. Meat, fish, poultry and dairy products should not be composted, as they produce odor and attract pests and predators, but many organic and inert materials are perfect candidates for composting (for more information about what should and should not be composted, go to http://greenliving.about.com/od/thegreenyard/a/ok_to_compost.htm. Composting is easy, inexpensive, and it provides a low cost replacement for commercial fertilizers which contain many chemicals which threaten water quality.
Never pour any household chemicals into the drains emptying into your septic tank or into
from your land from your land.
> Always establish a riparian buffer along the waterfront of your property (see the article
in the BMP Study above),
and ensure that it is in accordance with Georgia statutes.
- Rain Garden: Consider planting a rain garden (planting a garden that captures stormwater runoff from downspouts or natural collection areas areas), in which the water is filtered into the ground rather than coursing its way to the waterfront (for more information, go to http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/GWQ037.pdf).
- Xeriscape Gardening: Xeriscaping involves planting water-efficient plants in landscaped areas. The advantages include lower need for watering (a benefit for second home owners), lower maintenance in general and less fertilization. Critics would note that it also might involve introducing non-native plants, something frowned upon by some landscaping companies. Information can be found at www.krqe.com/dpp/living_green/sustainability/living_green_krqe_albuquerque_xeriscape_definition_tips_resources_200904241034
- Fertilizing and Controlling Weeds and Pests:
> Replace commercial fertilizers as much as possible with composted materials.
> Mulch plants extensively to absorb and hold water and reduce runoff.
> Till or weed as much as possible to avoid using herbicides.
- Aeration: Aerate lawns regularly to reduce compaction and improve infiltration.
MAINTENANCE AND CLEAN UP:
- Treating and Staining Decks:
> Brush rather than spray areas where it is impossible to place protective tarps or
> Professionals vary regrading whether oil-based or water-based products are more
water-based products are more environmentally friendly.
- Yard Waste:
lawnmower, which leaves the mulched clippings on the lawn, preventing them from
reaching the waterfront and reducing the need for lawn
> If your mower does not mulch clippings, and you have deciduous trees on your lot, bag
grass clippings and fallen leaves for removal from your property. Grass clippings and
fallen leaves which reach the water decompose and reduce oxygen content,
reducing water quality and threatening fish habitats.
> Sweep paved areas rather than washing them to avoid runoff into the watershed.
- Pet Waste: Collect and properly dispose of pet waste to avoid runoff of waste into and contamination of the watershed.
- Fuel/Grease/Oil Spills or Leaks in the Water:
water, long-term damage is minimized as a result of the evaporation.
> There is a misconception that spreading a detergent such as Dawn over the oil/grease
spill will neutralize the spill. This is not true. The detergent coagulates with the spill and
sinks the entire mess to the floor of the waterway, going down, not away.
> Consider keeping on your boat(s) and close by your docks a supply of fuel-
absorption items such as "booms, socks and pads." A clear idea of what booms
and socks are can be found by going to the website
Absorbent-Booms-Socks. These items can be used to clean up spills before significant
damage is done to water quality. Note: the TRWC does not endorse suppliers, but offers
this link to help residents know what tools are available. Other suppliers beyond the one
listed in the above address also provide such products.
- Fallen Trees: Contrary to intuition, fallen trees are beneficial to life in the watershed. Fallen trees (and for those celebrating Christmas, your "used" Christmas tree) provide good habitats for fish and provide protection for their spawn from everpresent predators. If a tree falls near your shoreline, trim the branches sticking above the water if their presence ruins your view, but leave the remainder of the tree (and the branches you cut) under the waterline to encourage the bass you hope will grow to trophy size to hang out within your casting reach.
IN THE WATER:
- Observe Slow Speed Zones: In addition to posted "No Wake" zones, maintain no-wake or low-wake speeds when passing by or near untended shorelines to minimize strong wave reverberation and the resulting wash of sediment into the lakebed or riverbed, as well as preventing churning up of bottom sediments that may contain banned chemicals embedded there decades ago.
- Sea Walls: Let's dispense with another misconception. Concreted sea walls are not your best option for edging your waterfront. Listed below in ascending order of contribution to water and watershed-life quality are the options you should consider.
your shoreline before you settled in your residence, as you, your neighbors and passers-
by gun their boats past your property, the waves will erode the shoreline, moving it ever
closer to your back door and causing the riverbed or lakebed floor to rise ever higher.
> Building a concreted seawall. When you build a seawall and maintain it, the erosion
stops. Usually, so does the fish habitat that used to exist along your shoreline. But what
continues in even greater volume is the reverberation of waves hitting your seawall with
very little dampening effect, so that untended shorelines nearby will be hit harder by
waves that used to dissipate when hitting your property.
> Installing rip-rap against your untended shoreline. Rip-rap (piles of rocks sloping
downward from the shoreline at water's edge to the floor of the waterway) protects
against erosion, reduces wave reverberation, offers fish a decent habitat, and generally
does most everything you want to have happen.
> Building a concreted seawall and covering it with rip-rap. Now you have all the
advantages of rip-rap, plus you have the beauty of the seawall with none of its
disadvantages. A bit more money, a lot more cachet and eco-friendliness.