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A dozen things you can do this summer to enhance water quality on the Santee Cooper Lakes


May 11, 2016   By Willard Strong in Santee Cooper Lakes

This month has Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer boating season. Whether you’re there for the day, the weekend or live on the water year round, there are things you can do to keep the Santee Cooper Lakes cleaner for everyone. So let’s get started.

1. Don’t litter. Keep a litter bag on your boat and at the shoreline, and use it. Don’t throw discarded fishing line or tackle overboard, or cigarette butts.

2. Properly dispose of waste from cleaning fish. It smells and is attractive to insects, vermin and other animals.

3. Don’t use the lakes as a restroom. Try to go before you go. On your boat, investing in a portable potty might not be a bad idea and can extend your hours on the water.

4. Keep your outboard motor or inboard-outboard engine tuned up. A cleaner running engine reduces the amount of emissions going into the environment.

5. Use synthetic oils and greases in marine engines, lower units, and trailer wheel bearings. They are much lower in toxicity than mineral-based oils. That’s because marine synthetic oils are biodegradable, breaking down much quicker after leaving the exhaust port. Some synthetic oils are labeled “Toxicity Tested” for use in the marine environment. 

6. Shoreline residents should limit the amount of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides you use on lawns. The runoff from rain contains chemicals that degrade water quality.

7. Shoreline residents should wash boats and cars on the grass, not on impervious concrete. Again, runoff is the problem.

8. Shoreline residents should limit erosion by installing approved, permitted structures. This investment not only can pay dividends for the lakes, but can increase your property value if you sell.

9. Prevent oil/gas mixtures from 2-stroke outboards from forming a “sheen” on the water’s surface. Be careful if you are mixing 2-stroke oil and gasoline around water so your older 2-stroke won’t form  a “sheen” on the water.

10. Buy a 4-stroke outboard. They use fuel much more efficiently than 2-strokes.

11. Do not discard plants or animals purchased from pet stores and aquatic plant nurseries into any local lakes, rivers or streams. These organisms can be quite invasive, can harm water quality and compete with native plant and animal communities. 

12. Do not move aquatic plants from one water body to another or within the same water body. These plants could be invasives (think hydrilla and now, crested floating heart) and physically moving them spreads them faster. So, make sure your boat prop and hull is clean of these plants.

For more information on the lakes, go to www.santeecoopercountry.org