With another year in the books, it’s time to look at our area’s premiere water resources destination, the Fox River Chain O’Lakes. In this Part I of a multi-part perspective on the Chain O’Lakes, we will explore the workings of the waterway from several directions. After a not-so friendly article was written last week, there have been murmurs from the general public regarding complacency of the Fox Waterway Agency (FWA) over the years. Now while some of this reaction may be warranted, it should be better focused on its origin. Management housecleaning was performed fall 2015 and the current management while working out the kinks has made many positive strides that should be reflected upon. For example, the FWA has gotten actively involved in watershed planning and water quality initiatives. Something that would never have been on the table 5 years ago. I know because I openly approached the Agency about it in 2011.
All that aside, we should focus back on the waterbody itself. The history of the FWA is a potential column in itself. The “Fox Chain” as we refer to it in this Blog is under a constant bombardment of watershed constituents and is essentially a regional sediment trap. The FWA’s primary objective year in and year out is to empty the trap or keep it from filling up. The truth of the matter is that the task is somewhat of a fool’s errand because you are treating the result and not the cause. This is what watershed planning is about, to identify causes and turn the attention to where is counts.
It would be somewhat exhaustive to attempt an effort to list all the possible sources of pollutant loading into the Fox Chain, and to be truthful it is just as easy to cite the work of other work groups such as the Fox River Study Group, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership (FREP), and Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), just to name a few. It may be just as easy to look at how the watershed and lake are used and how these activities compound the situation. What seems like everyday observances can help lead to changed behavioral differences of stakeholders that have a direct, positive impact on our waterways. To think that the Fox Chain has been in its current state for such a considerable amount of time and its current condition is all that most stakeholders know.
The unique circumstances surrounding the Fox Chain is simply that such a large amount of the constituency does not live on the lake(s), nor even reside in the surrounding communities or tributary watershed. This grouping of stakeholders leads to a likely division in the care level needed to appease the end user. All that being said, the body of water is public and the user base diverse. Additional users and stakeholders are beginning to voice opinion on use and conditions. Social media has allowed for additional avenues of communication which has made it easier for stakeholders to voice their ideas & concerns, many of which may be way off base, but just as many that have some degree of merit.
Come back soon for Part II.