Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lake Erie - Closer Than You Think

Check out this great cartoon in Symbolia by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche describing the tragic algae bloom in Lake Erie.  Particularly this panel:
Sound familiar?

Lake Erie has gone from an environmental success story to a man-made disaster in the course of a few decades.  In the 1960's, this lake was declared dead, but the Clean Water Act of 1972 regulated the discharge of phosphorous and nitrogen, allowing the lake to recover.  However, the CWA was best suited to address pollution of small farms and industrial farming overcame the limitations and increased polluted run-off.  So now Lake Erie is heading back to the grave.
NASA, Spring 2012
This algae blocks sunlight into the lake, killing underwater vegetation, pollutes drinking water, and is toxic to humans. 

When you look at the picture from NASA, you feel a little helpless.  There's this majestic waterway getting sick, developing lesions, and dying before your eyes.  Decades of work is crumbling under the weight of less than a dozen years of pollution.  And this time, there's no promise we'll be able to fix it.

But you shouldn't feel helpless.  We did this.  Our country, our consumption, and our indifference.  Unsustainable agricultural practices paired with a government maw that eats anything corn will make Lake Erie the norm without intervention to curb stormwater pollutants.

And I got this far without saying "stormwater".

Here's a look at the phosphorous run-off in the Chesapeake Bay watershed:
 Right now, the Chesapeake Bay has the third largest dead zone in the Country.  The first is in the Gulf of Mexico, second is Lake Erie, the third is a dozen miles from your house.

We're going to hear a lot about stormwater management this election, but my guess is that there will be far too few talking about Lake Erie.  I'll be one of them.

Have a great Wednesday doing what you love.  We're still pushing to meet our new fundraising goal and I would appreciate it if you would click over (even just to check out the new and improved website).

I also hope get out of work in time to see a number of you at tonight's HoCo Blogs party at Jailbreak Brewery!