Friday, October 15, 2010
Blog Action Day: The late Great Lakes?
As Kathy/Cold Climate Gardening is fond of saying, I live by the shores of an inland sea. To be honest, I’d rather live by the shores of a real sea; I love the ocean. But Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are very beautiful bodies of water. They have gorgeous beaches, and the sight of sailboats on Lake Erie is something that never tires. The proximity to the lakes softens the winter temps even as it brings more snow. It also keeps things cooler in the summer. Orchards and vineyards around Lake Ontario benefit as well.
But you often can’t use the gorgeous beaches thanks to polluted run-off. Infestation of alien species threatens many of the fish, and contaminated sediments make eating many of the fish that remain in advisable. In some ways, the lakes are better than they were, but there are still plenty of problems. I’ve always known about them, but this summer they became a bit more personal.
It was hot. I had never in my life visited any Lake Erie beaches on the American side, but this summer we did. We went to three—all were very pretty in their different ways. I particularly like the vintage concession buildings a couple had. Only one was open for swimming the day we went—the other were closed because of lifeguard shortages and heavy currents. But a report on beach pollution throughout the U.S. rates a few Buffalo-area beaches as persistently failing to meet healthy standards, particularly during times of heavy rainfall. This is when storm water overloads water treatment plants. The report was widely publicized.
There is more EPA money on the way as a result of this and other publicity. I know that beach health is just one part of the Great Lakes picture, but wouldn’t it be great if they were always clean and open all summer long?
Here are two useful sites:
Great Lakes Information Network
EPA Great Lakes site