Lakes in general are a reflection of the watershed that they reside in. When it
rains out the water that cannot be absorbed by the soil is directed by the
nature of the landscape to lowlands, streams, rivers and of course lakes. The
kinds of material that ends up there is dependent on the type of soils and
vegetation that make up the landscape.
When we as humans change the landscape by clearing the land, pave the roads and
build our cities we create “Cultural Eutrophication“, which is the removal of
the natural soils and vegetation that make up the natural protective barrier to
keep material or nutrients from entering directly into a body of water, which
causes accelerated natural eutrophication of lakes. When this happens “nonpoint
source pollutants” can now enter the lake more easier. These include lawn
fertilizers, pesticides, pet bacteria, metals like lead and zinc, automotive
oils and road materials. A water treatment plant or factory may add a “point
source pollutant” by using pipes that discharge water that reaches the lake,
which need to be taken into consideration in the future.
What does all this Mean? Eutrophication by itself is the enrichment of water
with inorganic nutrients, organic matter and silt which causes an increase in
biological activity. The rate at which a lake “ages” which is all lakes
eventually fill in and become dry land (sorry lake shore owners) can take
thousands of years to happen. Our own cultural activities can allow this to
happen in a single generation and the increased lake ageing is called “Cultural
Eutrophication” The most relevant effect is the algae bloom with a close
following of the shallowing of a lake by silt and soil runoff which in turn
causes shallow rooted plants to thrive, which in turn cause boat navigation
hardships, boats churning up plants and sediment then create a resuspending of
nutrients which can enhance the biological activity all over again. This effect
has appeared in Choo Choo Bay and the Mud Arm over the last 30 years, in a
single generation the Mud Arm has went from being boat user friendly to non boat
Along with the Cultural Eutrpohication effect comes the loss of spawning grounds
for fish and other aquatic species. Areas have dried up or become contaminated
with silt and algae and the oxygen level no longer supports or sustains aquatic
life in that area.
Controlling nonpoint source pollutants should be the main objective of any lake
management plan. The CLIA is leading the way with a storm water runoff project
at one point on Viking Blvd, which should limit the entry of soils, nutrients
and other materials from entering Coon Lake uncontrolled. This is only one
project however. As a lakeshore owner with riparian water rights it is also up
to each individual to make sure that they participate and implement good water
run off practices. Next time it rains, go outside and actually look at what is
happening to the rain water runoff. Make sure you have a buffer zone at the
lake shore. Look around your neighborhood to spot potential runoff hazards and
bring them to the owners or city’s attention. Things cannot be fixed if we do
not let them know.
Treating storm water runoff is now part of the federal Clean Water Act.
Cultural Eutrophication is a form of water pollution, we all want to continue to
use and have a healthy lake to enjoy, we all need to take steps to protect it.
It is all the little things that each and everyone of us does that ends up
making a big impact. The things you decide to do today will have a long term
impact on you and future generations who desire to have a high quality water
environment as their backyard to use for recreation.
Not only important to just lake owners but all property owners who have a
wetland or pond close to them should be aware of the Cultural Eutrophication
effect and take steps to protect them.
Spring into Action
Boating and Water Pollution
Keeping It Blue!