Target Phosphorus

Starve that Lake!

The Lake George Park Commission wants to put the lake on a diet, a phosphorus diet, and it needs every single lake resident and visitor to help.

By any estimate, thousands of pounds of phosphorus and other fertilizers are brought into the basin each year as lawn fertilizer and enhanced potting soil. Once applied to the land or put into draining pots, the fertilizer is free to wash into the lake with the next storm. Dense Eurasian Watermilfoil, other water plants and increased algae often appear with regularity adjacent to fertilized lawns and gardens. "Environmental organizations and communities have done much to stop urban runoff, a major source of phosphorus. Now is time to deal with the fertilizer issue or risk producing a green and weed-choked lake," said Bruce Young, Commission Chair.

Here’s the story on phosphorus.

It is the lake’s limiting nutrient — spike Lake George water with more phosphorus and algae growth increases.

A certain amount of phosphorus reaches the lake naturally but the amount is limited.

Fertilizing your lawn ultimately fertilizes the lake and it is not an abstract concept — algae and weed growth increase along the lake bottom immediately near over-fertilized properties.

Fertilized lawns, plant beds, potted plants, etc, are in abundance near the lake.

Human activities that disturb the soil also can increase phosphorus loading to the lake.

Phosphorus and other contaminants accumulate on hard surfaces such as rooftops and driveways during dry periods and get washed into the lake during runoff events.

While only about 5% of the lake basin is developed, the developed areas contribute almost as much phosphorus to the lake as the 95% of the basin that is undeveloped.

Once in the lake, nutrients get recycled, accelerating the lake’s aging process.


Here is what you can do:

Stop using fertilizers — talk to your landscape company, homeowner association, etc. — at a minimum switch to phosphorus free fertilizers.

Reduce lawn areas in favor of trees or natural ground cover. There are many good resources available on the kind of native plants to use. This will also save you time and money in lawn maintenance.

Establish a natural plant buffer area along your lakefront. Low growing shrubs or natural, unfertilized rock gardens are good.

Infiltrate stormwater runoff from your home, driveway, etc. — there are good guides available to show you how.

You’ll be helping to preserve the lake for our children and their children.

Cornell "Green Lawn" Article - Press Republican Story on Phosphorus
LCBP "Lawn to Lake"

Lake George Park Commission P.O. Box 749 Fort George Road Lake George, New York 12845
 Telephone: (518) 668-9347 Fax: (518) 668-5001 E-mail:  Commission Privacy Policy