Editorial: It ain't easy being green

Green Lake near Sunnyside.

Tim Lyke photo

“As history is our guidepost, complacency will be Green Lake’s loss, and thus ours.”

— from “A Lake Management Plan for Green Lake,” Feb. 19, 2013 draft

Who knew that our beloved Green Lake could be come too green?

Turns out, biologists have understood this, and have warned us about it, too.

... But for the first time last week, the Green Lake Association announced that water in the state’s deepest inland lake is “impaired” as its total phosphorus sample data exceeded the nation’s Clean Water Act-acceptable thresholds for recreational use, and for fish and aquatic life.

That means there’s a less-than-desirable level of oxygen in the water. While this poses no immediate threat for swimmers, boaters and skiers, it’s more troublesome for anglers who have counted on the lake to furnish fish that are healthy and bountiful. Phosphorous that causes algae blooms and other excessive vascular plant growth chokes oxygen supplies, thereby putting fish habitat at greater risk.

Of greatest concern is “non-point pollution” caused by agricultural runoff, lawn chemicals, municipal waste, oil, grease and more.

For this reason, Ripon’s Lumen Charter High School students recently painted the phrase, “Dump no waste. Drains to lake” in front of Ripon storm sewers to make the point that what enters the drain exits into the lake.

While the “impaired waterway” classification introduces opportunities for Green Lake to receive restoration grants, that doesn’t leave the rest of us off the hook. Big Green Lake is fed by several tributaries, the biggest being Silver Creek, which flows from Ripon into the Inlet.

We, who treasure our 7,346-acre emerald to the west, can’t be complacent. While too many of our neighbors view the earth as their own personal wastebasket (talk to those who “adopt’ segments of highways), we must regard Green Lake’s health as our responsibility. ...

It’s up to us keep Green Lake healthy so that the only increase in green is in the wallets of those who believe we care now or pay later.

— Tim Lyke

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