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Erosion Reduction Campaign Program Overview

Summaries and photos of erosion reduction sites around China Lake:

The 2022 China Lake Watershed-Based Management Plan (WBMP) describes the water quality conditions, watershed characteristics, and steps that can be taken to restore water quality in China Lake over the next 10 years. The plan is estimated to cost $3.16 million to complete through state, federal, and local resources over this time period. The plan outlines management strategies, establishes water quality goals, and describes actions needed to achieve these goals.

The China Lake WBMP provides 113 actions to achieve the water quality goal. The action plan provides science-based solutions for restoring water quality in China Lake, while promoting communication between residents, towns, and watershed groups (the China Lake Association (CLA), the China Region Lakes Alliance (CRLA) and the Kennebec Water District (KWD)).


The WBMP action plan includes a renewed effort to address the external Phosphorus (P) load by addressing existing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution throughout the watershed and limit new sources of phosphorus from future development and effects of climate change. NPS pollution includes sediment from erosion sites, fertilizers and pet waste from lawns, road salt, and many other pollutants. 

Reducing NPS pollution is essential for minimizing P entering the lake and will maximize the benefits from reducing the internal P load. Developed land (residential and commercial property, roads, and agriculture) accounts for approximately 25% of the China Lake watershed area but contributes 70% of the P load from the watershed.

A watershed survey conducted in 2020 identified 161 erosion sites, the majority of which are on residential, shoreline properties. The WBMP action plan includes addressing all 79 high and medium impact NPS sites, which is the basis for the Erosion Reduction Campaign.

Site-specific actions to treat stormwater runoff throughout the watershed will reduce the phosphorus entering the lake.  NPS site remediation is an important part of a multi-step process to improve water quality in China Lake. It is the first step in reducing external P loading to the lake, which must be addressed before pursuing an aluminum treatment. 

Decreasing the watershed input alone may not be enough to restore water quality in China Lake, but it will prolong the effectiveness of any treatment to inactivate P present in the lake sediment. Addressing the external load will require ongoing work annually over the ten-year period of the WBMP and beyond. Cooperation from private landowners will be needed to meet the WBMP goal to reduce the watershed P load by 56 kg/yr in the east basin and 41 kg/yr in the west basin.

CLA Plan to Address NPS Sites: Erosion Reduction Campaign

The 2020 survey identified 161 sites across the watershed that have a negative effect on the water quality of China Lake. Factors such as ground slope, extent of the erosion, and the size of vegetative buffer were used to rank the severity of the NPS site. Of the 161 sites documented, 20 rank as high impact, 59 as medium-impact, and 82 low impact sites. Residential NPS sites account for over 66% of all sites.

The CLA, in conjunction with its partner organizations CRLA and KWD, will work with cooperating landowners to provide technical and cost-sharing assistance to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will abate NPS pollution. The work will be conducted at sites identified in the China Lake WBMP survey with the goal of reducing P loading to the lake.

CLA will follow an annual process to continue to address NPS sites from the list. The cycle may vary in timing and effectiveness, based on the annual availability of staff and funding to conduct projects.

  1. CLA will send annual letters to landowners of sites identified on the NPS list. The letter seeks to engage property owners to remediate NPS sources by proactively working with CLA and its partners.

  2. CLA staff and volunteers will visit the NPS site, preferably with the landowner present, to evaluate site conditions, take pictures, measurements, and identify any deficiencies that may exist since the 2020 survey was conducted.   

  3. CLA staff will develop a proposed action plan to address NPS concerns at the landowner’s property. 

  4. CLA will make contact with the landowner to review the proposed action plan. The identified concerns and proposed remediation steps will be reviewed. The landowner may choose to undertake all, some, or none of the proposed actions.

  5. If the landowner chooses to proceed with remediation, the CLA will develop a detailed scope of work and cost sharing agreement. The agreement will outline remediation steps to be conducted, a project budget, and determination of cost sharing between the landowner and CLA/partner organizations.

    Funding available for projects will vary year to year based on federal, state, municipal, and other grant funding secured by CLA to conduct NPS site projects. As such, the number of projects that may be conducted may increase or decrease from year to year.


  6. Generally, most projects will be completed between the Spring and Fall months. At the conclusion of a project season, CLA will send a new round of letters to landowners from the NPS list to solicit interest in site evaluations and potential projects for the following year.


If you are curious as to whether your property on on the CLA NPS list, or if you think you may have erosion problems on your property in the China Lake watershed, reach out to us at and we would be glad to work with you.  

Masthead Photo Credit: Mike Watson

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