Your Earth Day Guide to Lake Cleanup

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews

The best thing about Earth Day is it’s a natural time of year to reset your goodwill clock. Lakes and ponds are often the focal point of community parks. They’re natural — well, normally natural — bodies of water that many seem to think care for themselves.

Unfortunately, with runoff and soil erosion so prevalent, these bodies of water need our help to stay healthy and enjoyable for us and to support wildlife.

Why Lakes and Ponds Matter

Even though you’ll never let pond water past your lips, what about your pets? What about summer vacations full of swimming, fishing and boating? These bodies of water are a part of your community, and their health affects yours.

Did you know lake and pond problems can build into physical health problems for you? Blue green algae isn’t just unsightly, it can carry cyanobacteria, which can lead to anything from dermatitis to liver damage or worse.

Even if you chose to ignore the risk of sickness, the smell of a dying pond or lake is disgusting. Do you really want that wafting through your community?

Ready to take your local lake cleanup into your own hands? Try these 10 tips!

Fish Responsibly

There’s nothing wrong with fishing and, in fact, many lakes and ponds are stocked specifically for public fishing. However, switch to using non-toxic tackle. When you’re buying new fishing products, take into consideration what will happen to any bird or animal that happens across your line if you lose it.

Organize Community Cleanup Days

Never feel like you’re the only one that cares. Organize a community cleanup day, get the whole family involved, and remove all trash from the shore in one swoop. This is a good time to make connections with peers. You might even be able to start a community cleanup club!

Establish a Community Club

Speaking of a cleanup club, why not start one? The “work” around these groups is what brings the community together. Get together once a month to give your pond or lake a good deep clean. Take advantage of holidays like Earth Day to spread awareness throughout your own community.

Fundraise for Large Projects

Cleaning up a huge local lake? Lean on your community for financial help. If your local lake is in trouble, start by speaking with the chamber of commerce. A huge community focal point in need is often something they’ll want to be involved with.

If you’ve already formed a club, that’s a good way to start networking with other volunteer organizations for further help.

Build an Island

Speaking of large projects, a lake with high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen is a body of water in trouble. They encourage algae growth, which stop light from reaching aquatic life, limits oxygen and, eventually, can be fatal to the ecosystem. Building a drifting island might be just the thing to remove harmful levels of nutrients from the water.

These floating islands vary in size depending on the need. Basically, these rafts act as wetlands that remove dirty water through a filtration process. Learn how to build your own, or pool together some of that fundraising money to call in a team of experts.

Restore Wetlands

Wetlands are a vital part of a lake. They serve as a natural filter, help control flooding and erosion, and house fish and wildlife. If you notice your local pond’s wetlands are dwindling or nonexistent, act fast!


That phrase only sounds like it doesn’t involve a pond or lake. Guess where all that water flows from and to? Adopting a creek can be a fantastic family and friends activity. Adopt a portion of a creek and mark storm drains, pick up trash and even test the water for potential problems.

Family Trash Nabbing Contest

Don’t wait for the community to band together if you have a family ready to go clean up now. Have a trash collecting contest. Just because the day is starting a little stinky doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Everyone just needs to choose their favorite trash nabbing tool.

Don’t Bathe!

Camping is fun, but there are rules. You already know you aren’t supposed to leave anything behind, but that goes for soap, too. Keep your soap out of lakes and ponds. Honest — the soap only works for people; it actually harms the lake.

Finish Line Party

Finish your day of cleaning with a cookout. Take pride in the work you’ve done to support your park and community.

Earth Day is nearly upon us but, even without this annual reminder to clean house, we should try to keep our world clean. Try a few of the tips above to become more involve with your community.

Photo by BucketListly

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-678-5779