The Evolution of a Lake Protection Program: LakeSmart

“Maine’s nearly 6,000 lakes generate an estimated $3.5 to $6 billion in annual economic activity and support 52,000 jobs, while providing 400,000 Mainers with clean drinking water (Schuertz et al. 2001). This resource is at risk from increased developmental pressure, nutrient runoff, and the compounding effects of global climate change. Regulatory approaches, including mandatory shoreland zoning and restrictions on construction and dredging, have helped lake managers mitigate these risks. However, these top-down, enforcement-based approaches have not been sufficient to eliminate threats to Maine’s lakes or stem water quality declines.


LakeSmart, an innovative voluntary certification program, is a promising tool to address these challenges. Based on the principles of community-based social marketing, the LakeSmart homeowner education and recognition program promotes positive conservation behavior by lake shore residents and rewards practices that help stem the flow of nutrient runoff and septic effluents, important sources of lake pollution. From humble beginnings (Welch and Smith 2008), LakeSmart – now operating on 39 lakes and 1 river in 13 of Maine’s 16 counties – has become one of the most effective voluntary lake protection programs in the country.”

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