Make a New Year’s Resolution- For Your Lake

Time for a New Year’s Resolution.  One you can aspire to follow through on.

No more putting it off.  No more waiting for the phantom grant to appear.  No more pointing fingers and blaming it on everyone else.  No more unresolved arguments with your neighbors or fellow lakeside owners.  It’s time to come together.  For the sake of the lake, for the sake of your property (value), and for the sake of generations to come.  Perhaps it is time to take inventory of what you have and what you may like to have.  What projects are the (lake) group, HOA, other entity pursuing?

Or perhaps we just prefer to drive to Wisconsin where the water is clean and keep passing the buck on to the next generation.  Regardless of the situation, so many people feel powerless the to do anything about the waters of Illinois.  Why is this?

The New Year, a new you, and a new attitude towards lake management.  Not one of us can do it without the other.  We spend a lot of time both actively and passively dealing with dealing with the nuances of daily life, what could the addition of a monthly or bi-monthly discussion or meeting hurt?  As it turns out, many individuals who get involved in local lake management initiatives wish that they had gotten involved earlier.  In several cases this can lead to local lake activists taking on a larger role in professional and semi-professional lakes groups to share their experiences with other and better network with peers and professionals alike.

The science and understanding is so much better than say, 25 years ago.  There are less limiting factors in finding the right materials and resources to make informed decisions.  Social media, the internet, digital archives all serve as valuable resources when properly accessed.  This Blog, for example, serves as one of many resources to educate and at times motivate professionals and non-professionals alike.

Below is a brief list of 3 reasons to get involved:

  1. Understanding.  Simple actually.  Knowing and being informed is much more constructive than individuals that consistently confront others in a groups setting to push their own agendas.  They often quite easy to pick out.  We ask you to not be “that guy”.
  2. It protects property values.  This should resonate most loudly with adjacent land property owners as water quality consistently shows a return correlating with resale value of land.
  3. Legacy.  Preserving something for our children to witness, potentially with their children and grandchildren.  Obviously our grandparents and parents may not have done the best job protecting the environment, but they receive at least a partial pass by lack of knowledge.  We can no longer bear that as an excuse.  The science has been proven out.  It merely requires a follow through.

So there it is.  Hopefully this convinces you to at least explore the concept of involvement in your local lake or watershed group.  While we do not have an extensive list of resources and contact on this Blog YET, we hope to in the future.  For the time being the County or local municipality may have contacts or alternatively, your own HOA may be engaged.  If that fails feel free to contact any of the names within this Blog and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Cheers to a Happy New Year and everything lakes and water.  See you in 2017!

~p0sted by Admin

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Alum Treatment- ILMA POD Available

The Illinois Lakes Management Association (ILMA) will host a free Point of Discussion (POD) session on Wednesday, January 25th at the Wauconda Moose Lodge in Wauconda.  Start time is scheduled for 6PM.  This may be an interesting discussion topic for anyone diagnosed or concerned with rising or persistent phosphorus issues in their lake.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.

ilma-pod-1-25-17-alum-treatments

 

EPA’s National Lakes Assessment

In a short article recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), results of a national assessment indicated an alarmingly high ratio of lakes within the United States suffer from too much nutrient pollution.  4 in 10 lakes suffered from to much Nitrogen AND Phosphorus.  Key word is AND.  Atrazine levels are persistent in lakes which will hopefully provide credential for an eventual ban.

The full information on the article can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-survey/nla

Discussion:  While the results may be a bit eye-opening, we don’t think anyone who works within the profession is overly shocked.  Any lake that currently exists or has historically existed within an agricultural watershed is likely to have legacy nutrients bound within the sediment and/or vegetation that can be re-released upon re-suspension or decomposition.  This is specifically likely within northeastern Illinois where agricultural watersheds have slowly transitioned to an urban to semi-urban environment.  While Nitrogen and Phosphorus may slowly be introduced to a new team of urban nutrients, including heavy metals.

It would be even more interesting to see a more robust breakdown of the data by land use, location, watershed size, geography, etc.  The National Aquatic Resource (NAR) Survey data is not available for the latest survey (2007 survey data is available; however) so a thorough review of location based statistics may be forthcoming.

Obviously by now it is common knowledge regarding the hypoxia taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.  Many of the lakes within the Midwest serve as subservient sediment traps for the greater watershed as the streams drain to the Gulf.  The same components that wash into the Mississippi river collectively drain to and from our respective lakes and streams.  With the rich soils found throughout the Midwest and the history of agriculture, the Nitrogen and Phosphorus levels in this area should be anticipated to occur at a higher ratio than nationally.

Additionally another resource for exploring this same concept can be located at: http://americaswatershed.org/reportcard/.  This explores a similar concept focused directly within the Mississippi River Basin level.  The information was also presented at the 2016 Fox River Summit in Burlington, WI.  While there are some signs that are encouraging the overall picture is less than ideal in both instances.  Course correction takes more than professionals and agency staff.  It requires the collective course correction of private landowners and stakeholders alike.  As always education is key and that is what this Blog is here to provide as a resource.

~p0sted by Admin

 

Fox Chain O’ Lakes: Offseason Perspective – Part II

Welcome back for Part II of the Fox Chain O’Lakes, an Offseason Perspective.  Northeastern Illinois’s premiere water resource and also one of the most impacted.  We continue to discuss key points surrounding the dynamic conditions of the lake, management prospectus and key pollutants.

Turning our attention now to the waterway, indifferent of stakeholder and agency politics, how does one begin to tackle the problems of the system?  You have watershed problems tied to enormous annual loading of sediments.  There is an ecologically challenged wildlife and fishery that reflects this.  Property-side landowners that do little to no actual shoreline protection or on-lot treatments that are beneficial to the waterway, and what is likely an overused, potentially abused recreational aspect that is also the largest revenue base for the waterway.  What do you do when the largest base revenue source is also one of the largest individual source impacts?  You begin to see how things become heated and political in a short amount of time.  Hundreds to thousands of different voices with different agendas.

But in all reality are our agendas all that different when you distill them back to their source?  Excluding any cases of individuals (or industry) who seem indifferent to the future condition of the Chain O’Lakes, most everyone should understand that there needs to be a realistic, long-term management plan in place to address these issues and placate all users and stakeholders.  The disagreement almost always seems to stem from how to implement such a plan and more specifically in what order to implement the actions necessary to complete the individual steps.

As mentioned in Part I, current management of the Chain O’Lakes consists of treatment techniques focused on the result, not the actual cause which is an expensive way to tread water.  Documented elsewhere, the overall largest load is delivered from the Fox River north of the border, however the largest average annual pulse of sediment is being delivered from in-state.  This would also include a much larger per acre volume of water based on the proximity of impervious surfaces to the Chain O’Lakes.

How do you keep sediment from making its way into the waterway?  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “1 ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and it could not be more true in the land use paradigm.  While the FWA has the charge of maintaining the waterway, it only has control of the end point of the sediment and currently lacks the mechanism to address watershed based control.  If only there was a way?  Ah but there is.  We refer to these things as partnerships.

Somewhere along the line the concept of partnering was never realized or never considered, but ultimately there are no functional partnerships that are resulting in worthwhile land management objectives.  Perhaps they once did exist, but never materialized.  Hindsight being what it is the only logical, somewhat economically conscious method of reaching equilibrium with the landscape will be through better watershed practices and structured partnerships.  What kind of partnerships?  Where is the economical gain?  Who controls land management use?

Part III of the offseason perspective coming soon.

~posted by LL&S