Don’t litter or pollute our Santee Cooper Lakes this summer
We’re at the height of the boating season this July Fourth week, and with people come litter. Remember, the lakes are a source of drinking water for people a lot of people in Berkeley and Orangeburg counties, with Dorchester soon joining the list.
So let’s keep the lakes clean for the remainder of the boating season and all year round. Do these things while you’re on or around the water.
1. Don’t litter. Seems like a no-brainer, but too many people toss everything from paper to plastic and aluminum cans, to tires in the lakes. Keep a litter bag on your boat and at the shoreline. 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. Don’t justify it in your mind by saying it can be “recycled” by predators such as raccoons, opossums, buzzards and other birds of prey.
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. New spark plugs, air and fuel filters every year help out a lot.
5. Use synthetic oils and greases in marine engines, lower units and trailer wheel bearings. Although they cost more, full-synthetic oils, now perfected, offer measurably better engine protection, whether in 2- or 4-stroke engines. Synthetic oil has an environmental benefit because in addition to superior lubricity, they are much lower in toxicity than mineral-based oils.
6. Shoreline residents: Limit the amount of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides you use on lawns. The runoff from rain contains chemicals that degrade water quality. This can adversely affect native plants and these chemicals can also foster the growth of unwanted algae on the water’s surface.
7. Shoreline residents: Wash boats and cars on the grass, not on impervious concrete. Again, runoff is the problem. Your car wash/car wax solution contains chemicals that don’t need to be in the lake. There are boat and automotive washes and waxes that claim to be eco-friendly, so check them out.
8. Shoreline residents: Limit erosion by installing approved, permitted structures not, for example, do-it-yourself seawalls. 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.
10. Buy a 4-stroke outboard. They use fuel much more efficiently than 2-strokes and reduce emissions into the air and water.
11. Do not discard plants or animals purchased from pet stores and aquatic plant nurseries into any local lakes, rivers or streams. The lakes are not an aquarium. 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 and physically moving them spreads them faster.
Enjoy the Santee Cooper Lakes this summer, South Carolina’s largest freshwater resource. Click here for more lakes info.