Monday, May 28, 2012

The Kids are Alright

Save Us! because we are not killed by the cold but from you!!! Pollution.” (spelling errors and omissions are my bad)
At least some of them care. I’m sorry I can’t credit the budding artists/activists who designed and posted this notice, but it made my heart sing to know that someone out there cares, and that someone is young yet, and hopefully will grow into their passion.
blue-green-algae-musselmans-lakeBlue green algae, Ninth Line, east shoreline of Musselman’s Lake.
But here’s the whole sad story. A few years ago, dead fish started turning up in spring (previously, this was NOT a noticeable occurrence). Folks were justifiably alarmed and the Ministry of Natural Resources was called in to investigate. The official story is as follows; after a long winter with significant ice cover, small lakes may be starved of oxygen, fish die—it’s natural, don’t worry. Then it happened again, and again. Our last winter, of course, was significantly shorter than most, which stretches the official story more than a little thin. About the same time as the fish kill, blue-green algae showed up in significant numbers.  What I mean by significant, is that the lake turned a brilliant emerald green.  The slime patch above is this years visible crop and the lake smells like an open sewer on the east shore (I’m not supposed to talk about this, I am sure. Property values may plummet) and sometimes on the west shore. I’ve lived on the lake for 15 years now, and while I wouldn’t call it the most pristine body of water, being weedy, shallow, and vaguely greenish, until recently, it never stank, it never had swaths of scum growing on it, and I never observed wreaths of dead fish on the shoreline in spring.
Of course no one wants to take ownership of this (and fortunately or unfortunately I don’t own lakefront so I can’t do much), but there are REALLY simple things people could be doing.
1. Stop using fertilizer’s that will run off into the lake; natural or man-made really doesn’t make a difference, if it has nitrogen or phosphorus, if the next rain will wash it into the lake, it WILL feed the algae.
2. Allow the shoreline to naturalize. Cattails, reeds, rushes, etc. absorb nutrients, and filter the water. These plants will EAT the fertilizer before it gets into the water.  Along with that, you can relax and have a beer as you will have less lawn to mow.
3. Keep your septic systems in tact, of adequate size for your household, in good repair, and out of the water-table. I personally have a hard time believing any septic bed is functional if it’s on lake front property, but there are tests available to figure out if YOURS is polluting the lake.
4. It’s not the horse farm. People always blamed the horse farm for any algae and weed problems in the lake; well, the horses are long gone, and the problem worsens, so, guess what, it must be YOU!
Rant finished. Here’s the lake:


Quiltbug said...

What a shame. When I was a kid (more than a few years ago) the highlight of the summer was going to Cedar Beach for a picnic and some swimming. I don't think I would want to go now and that is very sad.

kaslkaos said...

The frustrating thing (but small up side) is that its all fixable. I wish I could this post out to the people who should be reading it.
And nope, I wouldn't be swimming there now. BTW. Cedar Beach closed their public access this year.

Michelle Basic Hendry said...

There is a new community (relatively new!) in Serenbe, GA that has no lawns so you are not tempted to fertilize them. In some places, homeowners are pressured to keep a 'perfect' lawn.
The only way things will change is if we start patronizing the companies that use safe and natural technologies to reduce poisons, garbage - so many things in our kitchens, on our yards...
If you can imagine - the community I live in now has NO recycling! We need to see our own role and stop waiting for 'somebody' to fix it...

kaslkaos said...

Ouch! No recycling! That would hurt. It's the little feel good thing about garbage. About the lawns, that's my next planned post (1/2 written, art almost done). They are FREAKING OUT about dandelions in Stouffville, and I just don't get. My lawn hasn't seen weednfeed since we moved in, and it looks lovely to me. It's not a weed unless I say so. I just don't get the whole grass monoculture thing. Sometimes though, that 'higher authority' is useful. Recycling requires organizations, not individuals, oh yikes, now I don't want to shut up....(taping mouth shut, bye)

Michelle Basic Hendry said...

LOL! Recycling does take groups... for sure! And political will. But the chemicals we use are up to us. I think I am passionate like you and had two conversations! :D


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