What You Can Do To Help Protect Lake Simcoe
We all have a role to play in protecting Lake Simcoe. Please explore the rest of this section for tips on how you can do your part.
At home or at the cottage
Addressing the phosphorus problem in Lake Simcoe is a key environmental concern - and everyone can help. Here are simple things that you and your family can do:
- Switch to phosphorus-free cleaning products, including dishwasher detergents, and personal hygiene products.
- Have your septic system checked and cleaned every three to five years. Household wastewater can contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
- Don't put garbage or food waste down the toilet. Garbage and food will decrease the effectiveness of your septic system.
- Compost your leaves and food waste to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer. Fertilizers can pollute the water, promote algae growth and threaten the fish.
- Leave your shoreline natural to avoid erosion of sediment and preserve the ecosystem. Sediment can clog fish gills and smother aquatic life. It can also carry nutrients like phosphorus into the lake.
On the water
There are many great ways to enjoy Lake Simcoe, including boating and swimming. But make sure your activities aren't hurting the lake.
- Be careful when using petroleum products around water. Wipe up any oil spills and dispose of used oil and antifreeze at a marina or gas station.
- Use phosphorus-free biodegradable soaps in your boat. Soaps used in boat sinks, showers and dishwashers aren't treated in a sanitary sewer system when they're discharged. They can cause more harm than soaps used at home.
- When boating, do not produce a wake too close to the shore. It can cause erosion which can pollute the like and threaten aquatic life.
- Take all your food leftovers back to the shore. Food waste can add phosphorus to the lake.
Managing fertilizer use
Here are simple actions you can take to have a healthy lawn and a healthy lake:
- Keep your grass between six and eight centimetres high. This encourages root growth and reduces the need for fertilizer.
- Leave short grass clippings on your lawn. It is an easy and cost-effective way to fertilize.
- Test your soil to determine if your lawn needs phosphorus. Most mature lawns do not need additional phosphorus. Visit your local garden centre to purchase a soil testing kit. For more information on soil testing contact the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at 1-877-424-1300 or (519) 826-4047, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website.
- Choose a phosphate-free fertilizer, unless the results of your soil test show that your lawn needs phosphorus, or you are planting a new lawn.
- Choose a slow-release fertilizer that allows for more nutrients to be absorbed by your grass, over a longer period of time.
- Do not overuse fertilizer. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not apply fertilizer:
- when soil is saturated with water for at least 24 hours after rain
- if heavy rain is forecasted
- within 30 metres of any wells or shorelines (lakes, streams and/or rivers).
- Always keep fertilizer off pathways, roads and driveways. If a spill occurs, sweep it up and put it back in a sealed bag to use again.
- Plant a variety of native plants in your yard including grasses, shrubs, flowers and trees. This can help prevent fertilizer runoff, which can contaminate our groundwater, lakes and streams. Ask your local garden centre about what native plants grow in your area.
Protecting the shoreline
Create a natural shoreline buffer. A natural shoreline buffer is an area of vegetation along the water’s edge. It helps to prevent shoreline erosion and pollutants from entering the lake.
Here are some helpful tips to create a natural shoreline buffer:
- Deep rooted vegetation is ideal for protecting a shoreline from the impacts of harsh weather, and for stabilizing banks.
- Your natural shoreline buffer can include a mix of native vegetation. Check with your local garden centre or nursery to learn about native plants.
- Your natural shoreline buffer should extend at least three metres from the water’s edge. The bigger the buffer, the better.
Protecting our shorelines along lakes, rivers and streams is a key environmental concern. Everyone can help. Here are simple actions you can take to maintain a healthy shoreline and a healthy lake:
- reduce hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt
- plant a variety of native vegetation along exposed banks to prevent the shoreline from eroding
- restore natural shorelines that have been reduced or damaged
- divert downspouts into rain barrels to reduce runoff and shoreline erosion
- do not bring in sand to create a beach – this can threaten the natural habitat
- do not rake your yard waste into the lake, rivers, streams, wetlands or stormwater gutters
- do not mow to the water’s edge
More ways you can help
If you'd like to learn more about what you can do, please check out the following sites. (Please note that you'll be leaving the Ministry of the Environment site when you click.)
Protecting and naturalizing shorelines
- To learn about shorelines and the ways in which you can improve them, please visit:
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Working Around Water (fact sheets)
- What you should know about Fish Habitat
- Fish Habitat & Docks, Boathouses and Boat Launches
- Fish Habitat & Shoreline Stabilization
- Fish Habitat & Controlling Aquatic Plants
Healthy lawn care practices
- Learn about plants that are native to the Lake Simcoe watershed:
Agricultural best management practices
Stewardship and landowner funding programs
- For stewardship and landowner funding programs, please see:
Other related sites
- For information on other watershed programs, please see:
For more information, contact us at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The Ministry of the Environment is not responsible for and does not necessarily endorse the information on web sites that are linked to from this site.