The Owasco Watershed Lake Association works with many organizations to achieve its mission of protecting the Owasco watershed, including the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council and The Lake Friendly Living Coalition of the Finger Lakes. The coalition represents nine of the 11 Finger Lakes, including Owasco Lake, and provides us with these New Year’s resolutions:

Below are “lake friendly living” actions we can all take to better protect the lake. These include building awareness, alternative practices, taking action, resources, planning steps, educational programs, and making a lake-friendly pledge of support.

January: Remove snow and ice the lake-friendly way

Look for alternatives to rock salt to keep sidewalks and driveways ice-free. Consider magnesium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate. Both are far less damaging to plants, aquatics, and wildlife. Shovel before salting, and pre-salt before a storm.

Don’t know where to begin? Each Finger Lake has its own lake association with great resources on lake-friendly living. Visit their webpage to learn about the ways we can improve the Finger Lakes’ water quality together! In the Owasco watershed, be sure to visit and

March: Take the lake-friendly pledge

Are you practicing lake-friendly living and lake-friendly lawn care? Making a change in practices? Take the pledge and show your support for the LFL programs throughout the Finger Lakes! Visit

April: Plant native

Planning a beautiful landscape in the Finger Lakes is easy with native plants that require less water and no fertilizer or pesticides, and provide for pollinators and wildlife! Steer clear of invasive plants that can severely impair the ability of native populations to thrive.

May: Participate in Lake Friendly Living Awareness Month

May is Lake Friendly Living Awareness Month, and there are many opportunities to learn what you can do to protect your lake. Join the Lake Friendly Living Coalition during May and participate in workshops and volunteer efforts to support the health of our lakes! This is our third year, and this May we plan presentations and community events across the Finger Lakes.

June: Inspect your septic

Septic tanks are a potential source of nutrient runoff into the lake. Standard inspections should occur every two years for lakefront properties, and every three to seven years for property not bordering water. The county health department website provides information and instructions on routine inspections.

July: Swap incendiary flares for LED

Traditional flares contain harmful chemicals that pollute our soil and waterways. Switch to LED Flares to light up your summer holidays the lake-friendly way!

August: Use water wisely

During end-of-summer dry conditions, use drip irrigation or a sprinkler in the early morning or late evening to minimize evaporation and reduce water use. Avoid impermeable surfaces to reduce runoff and enhance water retention. Collecting water in a rain barrel for garden use and planting drought-resistant plants and trees are excellent options.

September: Test your soil and fertilize only if needed

Did you know that fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn? Cornell Cooperative Extension volunteers can test your soil for as little as $2 to determine if your lawn really needs a boost — additional fertilizer may not be needed. Consider building healthy soils the natural way with backyard compost and mulched leaves.

October: Compost or bag your leaf litter

Take advantage of municipal yard debris pickup services in spring and fall. Want bonus points? Recycle these nutrients back into your yard or garden by composting and restoring nutrients to their source.

November: Watch your waste

Holiday gatherings often imply large amounts of waste. Reduce waste by switching to biodegradable products like plates and cutlery, compost food scraps and consider your gift wrap, lights and decorations carefully! Shop locally and of course, BYOB (bring your own bag)!

December: Year-end evaluations of property and LFL practices

December is a great time to look back and start planning for best LFL practices in the new year. How can you reduce your impact on water quality? Assess your property and plan for lake-friendly success in 2024. Find great property assessment tools online, like the one here:

Kim Mills is secretary of the Owasco Watershed Lake Association and a member of its board of directors. For more information, or to join OWLA, visit