WI Farm Technology Days – not just about gadgets.

Touring Wisconsin (WI) Farm Technology Days, this year held on Snudden Farm on the outskirts of the beautiful, historically rich, and incredibly clean Geneva Lake area, I was eager to connect with professionals whose mission is to promote clean water.

I was not disappointed.

Though the focus of these professionals is mostly tied to ground water and drinking water, there was also sufficient concern for surface water as well.

And just for review, let’s discuss surface water, as defined by Goulds Water Technology, for a moment. And what surface water is cleanest.

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.

Geneva Lake, WI
Geneva Lake, WI

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.


Conservation Easements – a solid option in PA & elsewhere.

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.

Milwaukee River Algae Bloom
Milwaukee River Algae Bloom

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.

Milwaukee, WI, notes similar priorities according to
this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“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.

Been Away? Risks Of Algae Prevail Still ….

Algae Bloom Inland Lake

With apologies, I have been away from Clean Water Warrior blogging as our site begins the work of upgrading to the user-friendly, more robust engine that will support CWW’s full-fledged status as a non-profit 501c3.  That said, time away from our consistent research of secondary sources and terrific links has unfortunately not been accompanied by a slowing down of the algae blooms that represent a major ecological challenge in all 50 states.

In fact, so long as climate changes bring about warmer temperatures, slower moving water is not assisted with aeration technologies and/or the elimination of dated and unnecessary dams, etc., and there remains excessive nutrient runoff into waterways — largely from unregulated or modestly regulated agriculture operations — blooms will continue to pester and in worst cases destroy thriving lakes and streams.

A nice review of the basics of algae bloom infestations is available by the EPA.

Shallow Lakes Can Survive Ecological Threats

With my son heading today to the Midwestern vacation hot spot Wisconsin Dells, it seems like a good time to check on the condition of one of that area’s biggest attractions: Lake Delton.

For over 60 years this lake, which is home to Tommy Barlett’s wildly popular water shows, has been a flagship tourist draw to The Dells. Beaches and condominiums line the 250-acre man-made lake, the primary inflow for which is Dell Creek; with an outflow to the Wisconsin River.

But the lake is not without its problems. With an average depth of just 10 feet, and only about 20 feet at its deepest point, Lake Delton has algae problems. So much so, that lake area residents and the Village of Lake Delton in 2012 approved injecting blue dye into the lake, to make it prettier for residents and tourists alike.

Ahhh, the benefit of tourist dollars and sizable resources.

Home on Lake Delton, WI
Home on Lake Delton, WI

Well, the question begs, doesn’t it? If Lake Delton can struggle with toxic algae, what chance do other small and shallow lakes have?

Not that bad, it appears.

In this excellent article on shallow lakes ecology, by Dwight Osmon — a Water Research Planner for ecology engineering firm Hey and Associates — there are some rules of thumb to follow that give shallow lakes a chance to be cleaner and more naturally viable for people, plants and fish alike.

Promoting native plant life at the bottom of a shallow lake appears to be key.

Here is some of what Osmon presents as a multi-pronged solution:

  • Make an effort to, ironically and when applicable, lower the water level of the lake to permit sunlight to reach the lake bottom, and facilitate plant growth.
  • Eliminate carp via commercial fishing, and the introduction of predatory game fish such as Walleye and Pike.
  • Create larger no-wake zones to reduce wave activity — or eliminate the wake activity from boats altogether.
  • Control nutrient loading into the lake from sources such as farms and residential properties.

Osmon emphasizes that these approaches work best when implemented simultaneously. Certainly, together they represent a better option than adding blue dye.