Are we feeding our lakes under the table?
So consider this analogy: We know that food has the nutrients we need to grow big and strong. A family of four can easily eat 200 pounds of food in a month. But imagine that family of four has a beloved pet dog (we will call him Bentley). At every meal, every member of the family takes a little bit of their food and feeds it to Bentley under the table. This is on top of the regular dog-food feedings that Bentley already gets. It won’t take long for Bentley to get too much food and become very unhealthy.
Our lakes are like Bently! Stay with us . . .
We use nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen to grow plants big and strong. We use them to beautify our homes and increase the size and yield of plants. All the while, our lakes get the excess that runs off into our streams or down our storm sewers. But instead of a family of four, our lakes get the bits and scraps of every contributor, person or business, in our watershed. This is on top of the nitrogen and phosphorous that are already present in the ecosystem.
So why aren’t our lakes just fat like Bentley?
Instead of getting fat, our lakes become eutrophic . . . Say What?!? . . . Eutrophy occurs when a lake has so much nutrients that algae grows pervasive and robs the lake of its oxygen. What’s worse? Many of the algae families present in our lake are cyanotoxic. This means that they give off toxins that are poisonous to humans and animals.
Of course Bentley needs a diet, but he also needs some exercise.
No one person or group is to blame for the condition of the lakes and no one person or group can fix it. We will all need to work together to make a difference. But just like reducing Bentley’s table scraps, there are lots of simple things you can do to reduce the amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen that run into the lake. Look here for how you can take action! That way we can all enjoy Bentley – ahem – our lakes, for years to come!