Crafting a Lake Protection Ordinance

Lake protection ordinances are an essential tool for protecting the quality of the 41 million acres of lakes and reservoirs in the United States that are under increasing development pressure. This article describes how to craft an ordinance to protect and maintain quality of lakes from the pressures of both shoreline and watershed development. An effective lake protection ordinance extends over four major zones: the actual shoreline, a forested buffer extending landward, a shoreland protection area that extends further, and finally, a watershed-wide zone used to control pollutant loadings to the lake or reservoir as a whole. A lake protection ordinance (LPO) is particularly critical around urban lakes, to guide how and where new development will occur. Historically, there has been limited guidance on how to craft an effective LPO that protects lake resources, maintains the quality of the recreational experience, and accommodates the properly rights of landowners. Traditionally, most LPOs have primarily focused on a relatively narrow ring of land around the shoreline where development is most visible. However, given that lakes are so strongly influenced by runoff from their watershed, they often need to be managed from a watershed perspective.
Date Issued
1990 to 2000
Number of Pages
Associated Organization
Environmental Protection Agency
Rights Holder
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
Rights Management
Creative Commons