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As a lakeshore property owner and user of the lake, what can I do to prevent damage to the lake and shoreline?

Enhance your buffer zone

The key element in integrating shoreline protection with landscaping is protecting and enhancing your buffer zone – both the portion that is above the high water mark and the portion that is aquatic.

If your shoreline still has abundant original native vegetation, consider yourself lucky. Protect your shoreline and let it be. You have been blessed with a time and money-saving gift from nature. Native plants – such as shoreline sedges, shrub willows beside a stream, or poplars beside a lake are already adapted to the growing conditions of your region. They are generally more resistant to disease and stresses that introduced plants and will save you from mowing and having to apply fertilizer, pesticides and extra water. They also help protect your shoreline from erosion and provide natural habitat for wildlife.

The greater the variety of native trees, shrub perennials and grasses you have, the better for maintaining a health shoreline. A 30 meter buffer zone is a good target to adequately protect water quality and wildlife habitat.

Ridges and berms are other elements of nature’s buffer systems. On lakes, these may be earth ridges caused by ice expanding and pushing against the shoreline. These natural formations help protect shorelines from erosion and help filter runoff before it enters the water. Native vegetation will easily revegetate any bucked earth or sand dune formations. Resist the temptation to bring in equipment to level and grade your shoreline; keep berms and dunes in place on your property and avoid cutting through banks to get to the water. 

For more information about what you can do to enhance your lake and buffer zone, check out the Living by Water website at www.livingbywater.ca

Shore Development & Permits

The shore or foreshore as it is sometimes called is the zone extending below the high water mark to the water. This zone may be occasionally under water, either seasonally or historically. Saskatchewan Environment (SE) manage all lands below the high water mark. A shoreline alteration permit is required for any work near water. The Water Security Agency is the regulator for all work near water and you must now obtain approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for any work that effects fish-bearing waters or fish habitat. The Water Security Agency is the first point of contact for most water front residents wishing to carry out alterations on the shoreline. They will provide you with the information required for provincial approvals. You can contact Ben Wilson, ben.wilson@wsask.ca , or by phone at 306-933-7413. Download the Aquatic Habitat Protection Permit Application form. As a shoreline property owner, you are entitled to develop only land that you own and only above the high water mark. Depending on when your subdivision was surveyed, there may be land set aside as public reserve, between your land and the water. Such a reserve, typically 30 meters, helps provide a natural buffer between your private property and the water. Click here for an overview of the services and jurisdiction of the Water Security Agency.

What do I need to know about sewage ?

Sewage is defined as any liquid waste other than clear water waste or storm water. This would include all grey water wastes such as sinks and showers (including outdoor showers). In all areas around Turtle Lake that are zoned recreational or shore land areas, there are local bylaws that require homeowners to discharge all sewage emanating from their premise into an approved storage or holding tank. 

An approved tank is a CSA approved tank that meets the standard B66-05 for “Prefabricated septic tanks and sewage holding tanks”.  These tanks can be made of concrete, fibreglass or plastic. Sewage holding tanks receiving sewage from a household must be a minimum of 1000 gallons.  It is recommended that they be sized at 400 gallons per bedroom.  For example a 4 bedroom cabin should have a tank that has 1600 gallons capacity.

Maintain you holding tank

In shore land development areas in Saskatchewan, holding or storage tanks are required for properties within 500 feet of the water. Holding tanks hold, but don’t treat waste water. They need to be pumped out frequently and the effluents must be emptied into a certified sewage lagoon. Never puncture a holding tank to reduce the need for regular pumping. This risks contaminating the surrounding ground and surface water and could have serious impacts on the water quality, not to mention the safety of nearby wells used for drinking. Similarly do not release grey water from dish washing or bathing, on to the ground or directly into surface water. This could contribute to increased algal growth and deterioration of water quality.

If you have a holding tank or have inherited one, check that it is water tight. The tank must not allow sewage to escape into the soil, groundwater or nearby surface water. It must be water tight so that rainwater, surface drainage or ground water cannot seep into it. You can check your system when your cottage is not in use, by checking the level when you leave and then later when you return to see if it remains static. Sewage in Shore land Area Fact Sheet

 Can I have an outdoor shower?

Only if the shower drain is connected to the sewage holding tank. 

What if I have an outdoor toilet?

The outdoor toilet must be connected to the sewage holding tank.


Consider upgrading your motor to a direct fuel injection two-stroke engine or a modern four-stroke that meets or betters the EPA emission standards for 2006. Four stroke engines are often the best choice; they are well sealed, quieter, produce very little smoke and burn fuel most efficiently. Carry out regular engine maintenance to prevent leaking seals, gaskets or hoses. Dispose of used oils at certified locations.

Within 30 meters of shore, conform to the Boating Restriction Regulations, which limits all power-driven vessels to 10 km/h. Vessels are allowed to travel perpendicularly from the shoreline at higher speeds to tow a skier out from shore within designated areas marked by buoys.

The most common polluting event on the water is a fuel spill. Whenever possible, fill portable and on-board fuel tanks on shore. This will prevent direct spills into the water. Install an anti-surge valve in the fuel vent line to prevent fuel from leaking overboard. Know the capacity of your tank and have an accurate fuel gauge. Avoid "topping-off" or over filling. Excess fuel can escape through the vent line.

Report spills or oil sheens to the Saskatchewan spill line at 1-800-667-7525 where your call will be relayed to a Conservation Officer in the local area.


How can I get involved in the Turtle Lake Watershed Inc. ?

If you are interested in getting involved in the Turtle Lake Watershed Inc. contact you local TLWI Representative, or any of the TLWI Members.


Reporting activities or events that could threaten the lake and shoreline.

Report spills, oil sheens, or any circumstances that could threaten the lake and shoreline to the Saskatchewan TIPS line at 1-800-667-7567 where your call will be relayed to a Conservation Officer in the local area.

Boat docks & lifts

The Fisheries Act prohibits deleterious materials from being put into the water meaning anything that would negatively impact the existing aqua-system.     The following link will take you to a website that provides more information about Lakeshore Development  and issues related to docks.