Nature Canada

Green Tips for Maintaining Waterfront Property

Cottage season is well underway, and for many that means spending time by the water. If you have waterfront property, there are simple, sustainable and cost-effective ways to protect your investment and the environment. During the summer months, follow these helpful maintenance tips.


    • If your well is at risk of failure during dry spells, minimize water use and supplement with other sources such as rainwater collection.


  • Install a drip irrigation or soaker hose system; it allows water to seep slowly into the ground, reducing evaporation and preventing runoff.


  • Use a thick layer of mulch, like straw or shredded leaves, to reduce watering.

Summer Recreation

    • Mark where the water is safe for swimming, and be mindful of swift currents and undertows. Keep a reach pole and personal flotation devices handy for rescues.
    • Keep fires small, avoid burning beach driftwood that may be protecting your shoreline from erosion, and don’t burn treated or painted wood.


  • To avoid swimmer’s itch, apply waterproof suntan lotion and towel off vigorously immediately after swimming.


Low Water

    • If you draw from a water body, check to make sure that the intake pipe extends well past the low water mark or below the lowest stream flow level.


  • Move a floating dock out as water levels drop, to avoid being suddenly stuck high and dry!


Algal Blooms

    • Nutrients from fertilizer runoff or septic leaching can make still waters more susceptible to algal growth. In hot, calm weather, blue-green algae can “bloom” in huge numbers and may be toxic to animals or people.
    • Avoid water contaminated with blue-green algae. Do not drink it (boiling won’t remove the toxins), shower or do laundry with it, or swim in it. Keep you pets away from the water and do not eat fish caught in these waters.


  • Stay away from the water until it’s been tested and declared safe to drink or swim in.


This information originally appeared in On the Living Edge: Your Handbook for Waterfront Living, by Sarah Kipp and Clive Calloway, as part of the Living by Water project.

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