Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Lake becomes Eerie

It is not a spoof or a Halloween trick, it is a fact Ohioans need to come to grips with: Lake Erie is a scary place these days. A new report by the National Wildlife Federation has started to make waves in the press, but do average citizens realize how bad this situation has become?

Hardly what you would call a "day at the beach." Toxic algae can't be a healthy environment for our wildlife.

A recent stroll at the Huron pier left me feeling sickened by the waves of blue-green algae washing into shore. It was thick, foul smelling and almost as far reaching as the eye could see.

This year our lake has reports of algae blooms up to 2 foot deep, affecting much of the western basin. This toxic algae outbreak is the worst in history, surpassing the levels in the 1960's when the lake was declared "dead." The algae has plagued several inland lakes as well, with huge negative impacts already felt on fishing and tourism at Lake St. Marys. State agencies have been studying how to reduce farm run-off feeding the high phosphorus levels. We know the cause and now must resolve to make the tough changes required to improve our water's health. The stakes are too high to lose.

Meanwhile, we must take these events seriously. The food chain in the Great Lakes is collapsing. Fish and fishing is in decline- after all who wants to catch or eat "slightly" toxic fish? Once you have seen these sickening waves of eerie green- you'll reconsider any desire to swim or sail in these waters. Above all, Lake Erie is the source for drinking water for most nearby communities.

We can't sit back and hope someone will figure out an easy answer. The lake is our most precious natural resource and life in Ohio will not be the same until we take a good hard look at the way we are squandering our best and most beautiful asset.

Let's hope we can get our act together... soon. For the full report from National Wildlife Federation go here.

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