Be an H2O hero
New York's Lake Ontario in need of help to lower pollution.
Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 21:28
I read in the Democrat and Chronicle that Lake Ontario is number four on a roster of New York State's most polluted lakes. This is astonishing because I was just there in June, and now, only a month later, the beach has been deemed not safe for swimming.
The Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario, suffer from various pollution in the form of storm runoff, sewage system waste and other non point source pollutants such as fertilizers and detergents. Together or separate, these pollutants contribute to the near eutrophic conditions on beaches, which we perceive as that foul-smelling algae. All of those tiny bacteria grow exponentially when more phosphorus and nitrogen are added to the lakes. If it was not for the water samples taken to siren any concerns about water quality, these bacteria and harmful algal blooms can make people sick. Eutrophic conditions are also a negative influence on coastal ecosystems, and colonies of fish can decrease due to lack of oxygen.
What is really frightening is that so far this summer, Ontario Beach has been closed more days than last summer. What is one to do to combat this seemingly endless cycle of pollution? Can we do anything?
Of course we can. One thing that people can do is to use phosphate free detergents. Another idea, to reduce the flow of dirty rain water into sewers, is to plant rain gardens. Rain gardens can be planted near runoff sources such as driveways and gutters. You can plant deep rooted native plants and grasses so that runoff is utilized for plants instead of going straight into sewage systems. This is a great step toward reducing the flow of waste on streets as well as nitrates and phosphates into our Great Lakes.
I always believe that the little things can add up and make a difference for our environment. Let's keep our lakes in every state clean and safe for human use and for ecosystems. Together, we can reduce pollution. It starts with us.