In a nice review by real estate agent Adam Gohlke, the dirtiest water is that which contains the most runoff from farms, and municipalities. The cleanest: spring fed lakes, or lakes formed from exceedingly clean runoff (see: Crater Lake, which is considered by some to be the cleanest lake in the world, and has the added advantage of being one of the planet’s deepest lakes as well). These lakes are always self-contained, with no tributaries leading into them. Geneva Lake, Wisconsin’s second deepest at 145 feet, is an example of a self-contained spring-fed lake.
Gohlke’s basic assessment presents facts which are well-known to the professionals with whom I spoke. And that is encouraging.
Bottom line: not all lakes are created equally, and state and national clean water conservation resources must be shifted to those lakes with many tributaries — which invariably possess excessive nutrients and pollutants. For these surface waters, eliminating invasive fish like carp, invasive and damaging plant life, and creating sizable land buffers between fertilized properties and waterways, are all critical steps that must be taken in EVERY instance.
As Utah Lake battles one of the most serious Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB) in its history, once again the explanations for the outbreak are readily available.
The first? It is shallow. An average depth this year of between nine and ten feet.
The second? Water in Utah County, within which Utah Lake resides, is used primarily for agriculture. Crops that feed the cattle and dairy farms which, according this somewhat dated yet still relevant assessment from Utah Extension, show that Utah County was ranked first in the state in Total Cash Receipts from crop production and ranked third in Cash Revenue from livestock production.
As of July 2016, farmers and ranchers were being discouraged from using water from Utah Lake for irrigation and animals. The fact that these agricultural operations are using the very water to which they contribute excessive amounts of phosphorus (and other nutrients), that foster HAB, is ironic.
In this wonderful white paper by Debra Wolf Goldstein, Esq., General Counsel Heritage Conservancy, the many benefits of conservation easements established between municipalities and landowners are presented. In Pennsylvania (PA), as cited in the paper, chief among them is the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards preserving valuable land holds for residents.
The benefit to the public of privately-owned, protected property is indisputable. In the most recent statewide Recreation Participation Survey, Pennsylvanians listed their top recreation activity as sightseeing/driving for pleasure. Easements can provide this visual relief. Easements also can protect wildlife corridors, maintain a sense of community, combat sprawl, assist in farmland preservation, and maintain high quality water sources.
“People are paying a premium to live and work near the water, and this is hugely important as we work to make these rivers better,” said Matt Howard, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. “I think there is a more explicit connection between environmental quality and economic vitality.”
To restate the obvious, clean freshwater is incredibly valuable for tourists and landowners alike. With such financial incentive at risk, the decision to clean up always makes sense.
No doubt about it … Florida is in crisis-mode as it contends with the horrible side-effects of Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB). Unfortunately, the crisis was all to predictable, after nearly unprecedented torrential winter rains filled Lake Okeechobee to threateningly high levels — and resulted in mass-draining of the polluted (see: toxic) lake.
Water quality in the lake has degraded over time due to high phosphorus loadings resulting from man-induced hydrologic and land use modifications over the past 60 years. The total phosphorus concentrations that currently exist in the lake are in excess of the amount needed for a healthy ecosystem. The in-lake total phosphorus concentrations have doubled over the last 50 years ….
With all the aforementioned heavy rain, in February, 2016, concerns over flooding resulted in the Army Corp of Engineers decision to drain Lake of Okeechobee at a rate of 70,000 gallons per second. And eventually all this dirty water flows to the tourist areas … bringing HABs with it.
The simple fact is this: too many nutrients in water are a bad thing. They present a problem that spreads with runoff from land, which flows into waterways and then moves to other areas. Florida’s Gold Coast may be the latest, and most glaring example. But it is far from the only one.