Whether you are walking around a lake with your pet, or sitting next to one on a bench, it’s difficult to beat the calming sensation that your body feels when it is next to the water. From the relaxing sounds of the water ebbing and flowing from the shoreline to the hypnotic visual allure that lake environments create, having a lake provides many additional environmental benefits too.
As the matter of fact, wetlands perform vital ecological functions, and therefore are extremely valuable to the environment. Some of the lake benefits that scientists have documented include water purification, flood protection, shoreline stabilization, groundwater recharge, and streamflow maintenance. In addition, lake environments also provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered species. Proper lake management is required so that future generations of humans and other species are able to enjoy all of the benefits of wetlands.
Environmental Reason 1: Water Purification
Water purification is one of the most significant environmental benefits of having a lake. So, how do lakes work to purify water? They protect the water quality by trapping much of the excess sedimentary material that contains excess nutrients and other harmful pollutants carried by runoff. Runoff is known to carry many environmental pollutants, such as pesticides and fertilizers, that have been applied to the land. Lake bottoms provide the safest place for these pollutants carried by runoff to settle, thus preventing the contamination of other water sources. Even excess nutrients from runoff can result in water quality issues including algae bloom. Algae can become very detrimental to any water supply because it depletes the oxygen levels in the water. Lake environments consisting of wetland plants are known to remove excess, problematic nutrients and convert them to less harmful chemicals that are stored in the soil instead of the water.
Reason 2: Flood Protection
Since torrential rainfall is nearly impossible to predict, flood protection provided by lake environments is another noteworthy benefit. Lakes can provide local flood protection by holding surplus stormwater that would otherwise runoff into residential basements and backyards.
Reason 3: Fish & Wildlife Habitat
From fish and birds to reptiles and amphibians, lakes also provide a habitat for a vast array of wildlife that wouldn’t be able to survive elsewhere. For instance, migratory birds—like geese—require the sanctuary of wetlands, in addition to many other endangered species.
Reason 4: Economic Benefits
Lakes can be valuable to local economies in terms of supporting water recreation and the fishing industry. Communities with wetlands save money that would otherwise need to be spent on building flood prevention systems and additional water treatment plants.
Reason 5: Groundwater Supply
Groundwater—one of the most significant lake benefits—is an extremely valuable resource that can be used for personal drinking and crop irrigation. Lake environments provide a method for both collection and storage of precipitation during times of drought to help maintain minimum water levels from dissipating.