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Watershed management is an integral component of the Spring Lake improvement program. This page provides information about the Spring Lake watershed and things you can do to protect the lake.
A watershed (or drainage basin) is the land area that drains to the lake. The Spring Lake watershed is about 32,000 acres, a land area over 29 times the size of the lake. The watershed drains lands in both Ottawa and Muskegon Counties and includes all or part of 11 municipalities. Most of the land near the lake is highly urbanized and developed while the upper watershed remains largely undeveloped. The long convoluted shoreline of Spring Lake allows substantial residential development to occur around the lake. Currently, about 1,300 homes and businesses border the lake.

Spring Lake has 11 tributaries, the largest tributary is Norris Creek which enters the north end of the lake in Fruitport. Water flows from Spring Lake into the Grand River and on to Lake Michigan. Agricultural activity in the watershed is limited to the headwaters area of Norris Creek. Development near Spring Lake has intensified in recent years and there has been an increase in the amount of imperviousness surfaces such as roads, roof tops, and driveways all of which increase the runoff of stormwater and make Spring Lake extremely vulnerable to water quality impairments. Specific actions area property owners can take to protect Spring Lake are provided below.

Click here to view a generalized land use map of the Spring Lake watershed.

Click here to view political jurisdictions in the Spring Lake watershed.

To find out what you can do to help protect Spring Lake, click here.

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Caring for Your Shoreland

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Click here or the image below to get your own copy of The Water's Edge: Helping Fish and Wildlife on Your Lakeshore Property. The 12-page booklet is loaded with information on how to protect the lake.

10 Ways to Protect Spring Lake


  1. Don’t use lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorus—it's the law!

  2. Use the minimum amount of fertilizer recommended on the label — more is not necessarily better!

  3. Water the lawn sparingly to avoid washing nutrients and sediments into the lake.

  4. Don’t feed ducks and geese near the lake. Waterfowl droppings are high in nutrients and may cause swimmer’s itch.

  5. Don’t burn leaves and grass clippings near the shoreline.  Nutrients concentrate in the ash and can easily wash into the lake.

  6. Don’t mow to the water’s edge. Instead, allow a strip of natural vegetation (i.e., a greenbelt) to become established along your waterfront. A greenbelt will trap pollutants and discourage nuisance geese from frequenting your property.

  7. Where possible, promote infiltration of stormwater into the ground. Build a rain garden to capture runoff from driveways and downspouts.

  8. Don’t dump anything in area wetlands. Wetlands are natural purifiers.

  9. If you have a septic system, have your septic tank pumped every 2 to 3 years.

  10. Don’t be complacent — our collective actions will make or break the lake!

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Click the image above to download a copy of the Shoreline Living booklet.

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