“It’s hard to believe one person’s expansive lawn or eroding camp road could be a threat to something as large and enduring as a lake. But it can when added to a shoreline full of similar sites.
All stormwater that gets into a lake carries nutrients. Over time, the cumulative impact can be thousands of pounds of pollutants. The result, “death by a thousand cuts,” means algae blooms, fish kills, and the loss of water clarity and spawning habitat. One tiny rivulet from one rainstorm may not seem like much, but when multiplied across a lake’s watershed and added up over decades, eroded soil can turn a lake into a smelly, pea green mess.”
– Maggie Shannon, Maine Lakes
- What is LakeSmart? Who should participate?
- Why LakeSmart? What are the benefits of participating?
- How does it work? What does the process look like?
- How do I start? Jump here to fill out our initial homeowner survey and get things rolling.
- Resources for shorefront homeowners
- Shoreland zoning information
What is LakeSmart?
LakeSmart is a free educational program for lakeside and pond-side homeowners who want to learn how to manage their home and yard to protect water quality. The program is administered by the Maine Lakes. In the Damariscotta-Pemaquid region, Coastal Rivers works with Maine Lakes to bring the LakeSmart Program to residents who live on Biscay, McCurdy, Pemaquid, Paradise (Muddy), Duckpuddle, or Muscongus (Webber) Pond.
Studies have shown that as water quality declines the value of shorefront property also decreases. Declining water quality also can affect the type and number of fish species that inhabit the lake and can hinder other recreational uses of the lake as well as the local economy. It benefits everyone to take whatever actions we can to protect lake water quality. The goal is to make lake-friendly land-use practices the norm throughout Maine.
How does it work?
The LakeSmart program is designed to educate and to recognize watershed property owners who adopt and maintain responsible property management. A primary objective of the program is to teach landowners how to minimize the amount of phosphorus added to the pond, which is a key to preventing algal blooms.
Participating landowners fill out a homeowner survey and then receive a free evaluation of their property – the LakeSmart Start evaluation – from certified evaluators. Evaluators look at road, driveway and parking areas; structures and septic systems; lawn, recreation areas and footpaths; shorefront and beach areas, and undeveloped land if any. Homeowners then have as long as they wish to rectify issues and reduce run-off to the fullest extent possible.
A qualified evaluator then returns to the property to do a final LakeSmart evaluation and sends it to the state coordinator with photos of the property. If the property meets established standards, the landowner receives an award certificate and a sign recognizing the property as being LakeSmart. At their permission, the names of the LakeSmart Award winners are published in newspapers and in association newsletters and web sites.
If a property does not initially meet the standard, the landowner is given recommendations and educational tools on how to solve the situations preventing the award. The landowner has the option to make modifications to meet the standard and be re-evaluated. The purpose of this voluntary program is to provide education and support to homeowners who want to protect local water quality. Even small projects can make a big difference and every little bit counts!
Get LakeSmart Start!
Are you a homeowner interested in receiving a LakeSmart Award, but still might have some work to do?
Request a site visit from a trained evaluator who can make LakeSmart recommendations for your property. Following up on these recommendations can give you a head start for receiving an Award later!
To learn more or to get started with LakeSmart Start, email Sarah Gladu.
Resources for lakeside and pondside residents
On limiting run-off and living lightly on the water
- The LakeSmart Program through Maine Lakes
- The LakeSmart Laker’s Dozen
13 ways to protect the lake or pond you live on.
- Lakeside Living: Caring for Your Septic System
- Video: Coastal Rivers’ recorded online workshop, “Build a Better Buffer“
- Lakes Like Less Lawn (Portland Water District)
Whether you have lakefront property or live many feet from the lake, you can help protect lake water quality and make your property more beautiful and more valuable by making changes to your lawn.
- Erosion Control for Homeowners (Portland Water District)
Soil erosion costs Maine homeowners millions of dollars a year. Soil loss not only causes damage to roads and property but eventually finds its way to a lake, pond, river or stream. Here’s what you can do to control erosion.
- Vegetated Phosphorus Buffer Strips (Portland Water District)
Vegetated phosphorous buffer strips are areas of natural vegetation that have been left undisturbed or are replanted to naturally existing specifies.
- Fertilizer Basics (Portland Water District)
Individual lawns and planting beds may be small, but their total areas add up quickly. Misuse of fertilizer can harm the environment and injure landscape plants.
- When Canada Geese Become a Pest: Options for Landowners
While many people enjoy seeing Canada geese, problems can occur when too many geese concentrate in one area.
For good info on planting methods, native plants and related topics:
- Protect Your Pond With Native Buffer Plants
- Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District (Warren)
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Lincoln County Office (Waldoboro)
- Wild Seed Project: Information about growing native plants from seed and much more
- Wild Seed Project: List of places to purchase native plants
Shoreland Zoning Information
What you should know before you make changes on your shoreland
Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust is in no way involved in setting or enforcing regulations. This information is provided as an educational service. Please contact your town directly for the most current ordinances.
The “Shoreland Zone” is a legal term that refers to lands that lie within 250 feet of the high water line of great ponds and 75 feet of streams and wetlands. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams are sensitive to all human activities in their watersheds, but changes made within the Shoreland Zone have a disproportionate impact on these waterbodies.
In order to protect the health, benefits and value of these resources, Maine has established a minimum set of rules to guide what may, and may not, be done in the shorelands. This set of rules or regulations is known as the Shoreland Zoning Law. Most land uses within 250 feet of Maine’s rivers, wetlands, lakes, the ocean, and within 75 feet of certain streams are subject to the regulation of Maine’s Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act. The law protects water quality, limits erosion, conserves wildlife and vegetation, and preserves the natural beauty of Maine’s shoreland areas.
All municipalities must enact, administer and enforce a local shoreland ordinance. This local ordinance is required to be either as restrictive as or more restrictive than the state’s model ordinance. Your local shoreland zoning ordinance sets the rules in your municipality.
Before you make landscape or building changes within the Shoreland Zone, check with your town office to see what is permitted in your municipality, and if permits are required for what you plan to do.
If you suspect a violation of the Shoreland Zoning Law or local ordinances has or is occurring on a lake, river, stream, or wetland, please contact the Code Enforcement Officer in your town and request that he or she assess the site in question.
Shoreland Zoning Links & Resources
- The Maine Buffer Handbook
- The Maine Buffer Plant List and other resources
- Mandatory Shoreland Zoning (check this before any clearing or removing earth or rocks in the Shoreland Zone)
- List of Contractors Certified by Maine DEP in erosion control practices
- For additional information about local ordinances contact your local code-enforcement officer at your town office.