Liz Heinecke: Who will stand up for our lakes?

Having grown up in the Flint Hills and tall grass prairie of Kansas, I was in awe when when we moved to Minnesota, with its 10,000 (or 11,842) lakes dotting the landscape.  The fact that I now have a lake within walking distance of my house boggles my mind.  It’s like a dream to live in a state where you don’t have to be a millionaire to own, or spend the weekend, at a cabin by the water.

I don’t think Minnesotans realize how lucky they are. We take our lakes, and rivers and streams, for granted.

Sadly, instead of being stewards of our precious waterways, many property owners build structures that harm our lakes, allowing chemicals and fertilizer to wash into the pristine water every time it rains, interfering with the natural wildlife and vegetation.

Not only that, people refuse to replace old septic systems which often cause the lakes where our children swim to be contaminated with human waste. Somehow, we expect our lakes to remain clean and healthy, existing purely for our weekend fun.

Recently, we had a chance to make people take more responsibility for keeping our lakes healthy, so it was depressing to read in last week’s Star Tribune that our governor has once again refused to take measures to care for our local treasures.

“It’s like a parting shot out to Minnesota — thumbing his nose at clean water after all these years, which is a dirty legacy to leave,” said Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul and chair of the Senate environment, energy and natural resources budget committee.

In fact, our governor is taking care of his own political aspirations and his friends with environmentally-unfriendly lakeside mansions, while pretending to represent the average Minnesotan.

In the book “The Lorax”, by Dr. Seuss, the Lorax speaks for the trees.  Who will speak for our lakes, so that we can continue to enjoy them?  Who will speak for the natural resources you enjoy with your family?  It’s something to keep in mind come November.

For the next week or so, I’ve decided to blog about water.  National Geographic did an amazing job of writing about water and our world in April, and I’m going to participate in P&G’s Give Health “Clean Water Bloggivation,” not to win the trip to Africa, but because they’ll donate clean drinking water to people who need it, in return for participation in the program.  I’ll also blog about how you can make your own lake-front more environmentally friendly by planting a strip of native plants and grasses beside the water.

This post was written by Liz Heinecke and originally published on her blog Kitchen Pantry Scientist.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Janna Caywood on 08/24/2010 - 08:26 am.

    Hey Liz! This is awesome! You might find the report, “To the Source” from the Citizens League of interest:

    http://www.citizensleague.org/what/policy/advancement/water-1/

    I was part of the water policy study committee that produced this report. Finding #5 and Recommendation #1, in fact, inspired me to get together with my neighbors and form the Como Lake Neighbor Network. We are doing exactly as you describe… trying to deepen our water stewardship competencies and take ownership of our own contributions to the water quality struggles of our beloved Como Lake.

    Anyway, we should connect. You might find our upcoming Fall collaborative with Freshwater Society to be a worthy blog topic! 😀

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