With last year’s harmful algal bloom outbreak on Canandaigua Lake, many area residents have wondered what can be done to reduce the chances of future blooms on the lake. While the scientific community is focused on determining the exact causes, it’s clear that warmer water and nutrients are major factors. We can’t control rising water temperatures, but we can work together to reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake.

City of Canandaigua residents are often surprised to learn that the storm drains in our neighborhoods collect water runoff and deposit sediment, chemicals and nutrients into the lake. In addition, stormwater management systems in our area (roadside ditches, culverts, storm drain pipes, etc.) are gravity fed and eventually lead to the lowest elevation in the watershed: Canandaigua Lake. Managing the material that enters these systems is one way we can reduce the nutrient load that blue-green algae require to create blooms.

Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association developed a lake-friendly lawn care program last year, and asked our members to join in and take the pledge to incorporate environmentally friendly lawn care practices on their properties. You may have seen the small round signs used by those who have joined our efforts. (See our website at canandaigualakeassoc.org under the “Get Involved” tab for more information.)

The city and town of Canandaigua, along with the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council, have endorsed the Lake Friendly Lawn Care Program and will promote the initiative among local residents. We hope other municipalities will join in, as well.

Everyone has the opportunity to learn more about simple strategies to incorporate into lawn and landscape practices on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at Finger Lakes Community College, Stage 14. Environmentally minded professionals will teach us how to reduce our lawn pesticides and unnecessary fertilizer to protect water quality, and share tips for minimizing runoff and pollutants. The program is sponsored by CLWA and the city of Canandaigua, and features presentations by Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care and Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District. The event is free and open to the public.

With spring just around the corner, please consider joining us. Take the pledge to use best practices on your property and pick up a sign to proudly display on your lake-friendly lawn. Let’s all do our part to keep Canandaigua Lake healthy.

Wade Sarkis is a board member of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association.