How to Reduce Lake Erosion

For many lake owners or lake management companies, erosion is natural occurrences that that can cause several problems if they are not addressed early on. Lake erosion is often identified as a breakdown of soil into your lake. Here we will review how to notice lake erosion, natural contributing factors, and preventative measures.

First, one of the simplest ways to notice lake erosion is in the slope of the shoreline. A steep drop off along the shoreline makes the ground unstable or dangerous. If you have a private lake, you can place a water level gauge near the shoreline to reference throughout the year. Another visible signs is wash out areas, these look like a rock slide but instead of with rock you will notice the soil from the bank has fallen off into the lake.  You may also notice gullies which appear like small streams from the lake that happen during rainfall. As these gullies dry out, you will be left with large cracks along the soil surface. If you are outdoors often near the lake, take notice to if there is a difference in the ease of walking near the shoreline of the lake. In extreme cases of erosion, you will notice easement problems with foundations, patios, furniture, and plants around a lake.

Next, the most common causes for lake erosion are continuous changes in water level, strong winds, runoff, and loss of vegetation. Water levels changing are a natural occurrence with the changing of seasons, but if there are rapid and continuous changes, you are more likely to notice lake erosion. Wind is another cause of erosion as it picks up the soil and can deposit it into the lake. Runoff can also cause lake erosion as rain water, sprinklers, or garden hoses wash soil into the lake. You are more likely to notice lake erosion if there is a loss of trees or bushes around the perimeter of the lake or if a walkway or driveway has been added near the water line.

Finally, there are a few simple things you can do to help alleviate and avoid lake erosion. Standard practice is to keep a shoreline slope no steeper than 4 ft. horizontal by 1 ft. vertical.

If the slope is more subtle, you will reduce the possibility of a washout. A simple change is to avoid sprinkler and garden hose water entering in your lake by not over watering and being careful of water placement. You can also use rain barrels to collect water from your rain gutters that can be used to water plants or wash the car. Creating a vegetative buffer around a lake is an attractive and natural way to reduce lake erosion from runoff. This buffer can include a wide variety of plants and trees. The use of plants will also help to reduce addition organic debris, which can lead to sludge build-up, murky water, foul odors, and possible algae blooms.  You can also use fallen logs as a natural way to create a protective barrier. Littoral zones can also be added into lake as a secondary vegetative buffer along the shallow edges of water where the sun can still reach the base of the lake. If you are planning on creating a path to your lake, try to avoid using the shortest distance possible which will be a direct line to your lake. Instead create it with curves to avoid debris following the path of the walkway into your lake.  If your lake is large enough for boating, consider implementing a no wake zone within 100-200 feet of the shoreline depending on the depth of water and the motor size. This will help to reduce the effects of crashing water deteriorating the shoreline. If you are noticing erosion along one area of your shoreline focus your efforts on a few natural solutions there first. In more extreme situations of erosion, it is best to contact a local professional for suggestions on how to combat your particular situation.