How you can help look after your local lakes
How your busines can help
How you can care for the lakes you love to visit
What's the problem?
Too much phosphate from washing machine and dishwashing detergents is ending up in our Lakes, causing problems for the health of the lakes and the wildlife that lives in and around them.
(We're currently looking at Windermere, but we've seen problems like this in the Bassenthwaite catchment too, in fact our messages are transferrable to many lakes and canals - so do read on!)
Here's what's happening:
Too much phosphate is causing the growth of unsightly and toxic blue-green algae which is depriving other plants of sunlight. This leads to a lack of oxygen in the water which is depriving fish of food and oxygen which in turn is affecting insects, mammals and birds. The unsightly green spread of the algae is also toxic to humans and animals.
What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae feeds on nutrients in water such as phosphates and nitrates. Although it's a natural inhabitant of inland waters, warm weather and too much nutrient in our lakes is causing abnormal amounts of algae to grow. Put simply, the algae is suffocating the lakes.
What are phosphates?
Phosphates are used in detergents to 'soften' water and stop dirt settling back into clothes and dishes in the wash.
How are they damaging Windermere?
Phosphates are accumulating in the lakes from lots of different sources, including fertilisers, sewage and detergents. Water treatments works removes a certain amount of phosphate but not all and many properties in the area aren't linked to mains sewage system. Run off from poorly maintained septic tanks means phosphates find their way into watercourses leading directly into the lakes.
Around the lakes, a high visitor population and 'short break' holidays mean towels and bed linen get washed much more often. This adds up to a lot of phosphate going into our lakes.
Did you know, in South Lakeland, there are 696 serviced guest accommodation properties (hotels, B&Bs etc) and 3449 self catering units (cottages, flats etc)?! That's a whole lot of clean towels and sheets needed and a lot of plates being washed!
On average around 25% of phosphate nutrients found in sewage come from the detergents which we use in our washing machines and dishwashers.