One of my favorite vacations as a kid was visiting Lake Wallenpaupack, PA. Our family had a house near the lake and we would spend afternoons canoeing on the water, playing on the beach, and strolling around the lake. July is one of the best months to visit lakes. It’s also Lakes Appreciation Month, a time to celebrate our nation’s lakes and dedicate ourselves to protecting them.
Every July, the North American Lake Management Society, Kent State University, and EPA sponsor the annual Secchi Dip-In. Secchi disks have alternating black and white quadrants and are used to measure water transparency. The disks are lowered into the water until the black and white sections can no longer be seen. During the Secchi Dip-In trained volunteers gather data about the health of their lakes and contribute it to a national database. The information gathered from the Dip-In is important for scientists and communities to understand trends in the health of our nation’s lakes.
The National Lakes Assessment, completed in April 2010, is the first-ever study of the condition of the nation’s lakes conducted by EPA and state and tribal partners. In this report, you can read about the biological condition of lakes, the quality of lake shoreline habitat, and much more. EPA also hosted a free Watershed Academy Webcast on July 15th called “Healthy Lakeshores Through Better Shoreline Protection.” This Webcast featured a landscape ecologist and two state lakes specialists who discussed voluntary and regulatory approaches to lake shoreline protection. An archived version will be posted soon at www.epa.gov./watershedwebcasts.
As I have grown older and learned about the threats to our nation’s lakes, I value even more my memories of Lake Wallenpaupack. I realize now that all our individual actions—even ones seemingly small and insignificant—can add up to big problems. I am grateful for the opportunity to be working with EPA on a campaign to educate people about EPA’s National Lakes Assessment and ways to help protect and improve lake water quality.
We all have an important role in keeping our lakes healthy and clean so we can continue to enjoy them. Examples of things we can do include: planting riparian buffers along the shoreline, limiting use of fertilizers, and installing rain gardens to collect runoff. You can learn more by visiting EPA’s Clean Lakes page, downloading our new lakes widget, and following @EPAowow on Twitter.
About the author: Allison Gold is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow in the Policy, Communications, and Resource Management Staff in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watershed.