July is lakes appreciation month and as Northeastern Indiana residents we have a lot to appreciate. Lakes appreciation month is a time to celebrate our precious natural resources and to do something to protect them. The North American Lake Management Society sponsors the event. This is a celebration of North American resources, since we have more lakes than any other continent. The month of July was specifically chosen since Independence Day is July 4 and Canada Day is July 1. During both of these holidays people are out enjoying the lakes making this an excellent opportunity to educate the public.
Beaches, rivers and lakes are the number one vacation choices for Americans, and each year we take over 1.8 billion trips to go fishing, swimming, boating, or to just relax around favorite water destinations. Annual sales for just fishing, boating, viewing and hunting ducks, is estimated at nearly $45 billion. Americans not only want to spend their leisure time on the water, many desire water front living, which has become quite popular. On average, the value of real estate along desirable water areas is nearly 30 percent greater than similar properties located inland.
With water front vacations and living being so popular among Americas, you would think preserving these great natural resources would be a top priority. There are 41 million acres of lakes and reservoirs in the U.S. and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Natural Water Quality Inventory, 1996 report to Congress, 39 percent of surveyed U.S. lakes are impaired by pollution. The leading source of pollution is agricultural runoffs, sewage treatment plants, and urban runoffs. The most common pollutants were nutrients, metals and siltation. Another form of pollution is non-native species of plants and wildlife such as zebra muscles, which can damage a waterway's natural ecosystem.
The Steuben Lakes Council is well aware of these issues and has taken action by banning phosphorous-based lawn fertilizers in Clear Lake. Phosphates are a major cause of algae and weed growth in lakes, which can overgrow so that the lake becomes inavigable. The council is currently helping to craft an ordinance to expand the ban.
Banning Phosphates is a start to preserving our lakes, but that alone will not save our lakes for future generations to enjoy. As a member of the Lakes Management Works Committee, I am committed to protecting our fresh water lakes. I encourage everyone to check out the North American Lake Management Society website at http://www.nalms.org/ for more information on how to preserve our lakes. As always, please feel free to contact my office with any additional questions or concerns. I may be reached at 1-800-382-9841, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters to 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
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