Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 3, 2013

Quiet water values - an essay


Problems? A recent series produced by WKAR Radio’s “Current State” and the Great Lakes Echo nonprofit environmental news service, examined challenges and opportunities along Detroit’s waterfront. The project, supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, cast its journalistic eye on such topics as the heavily polluted Rouge River, resurgent walleye fishing in the Detroit River and shoreline rebuilding efforts.

Possible solutions? So far this year, legislators have introduced more than 60 bills involving water quality and supply, including proposals dealing with hydraulic fracturing, the agricultural environmental assurance program, dredging, wetlands protection, mining, toxic substances, nonnative species, pollution prevention, water withdrawals, brownfields, and municipal water systems.

Yet such mega-matters seem far removed from a small, quiet lake that’s not too far from Gaylord and not too close.

But this small, quiet lake – no, I still won’t disclose its name – remains at risk too: eutrophication, runoff, invasive plants, insufficient state funding to protect it and the state’s 10,000-plus other inland lakes, most of them as little-known and unobtrusive as this one.

Modest, unassuming they may be, but just as vital to Michigan’s water heritage, water future and water identity as ice-encrusted Lake Superior in winter, as Lake Michigan under a setting summer sun, as the Au Sable River in the early morning glisten, as the juncture of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, as the Straits of Mackinac, Houghton Lake, the Soo Locks, Grand Traverse Bay, Torch Lake or the Grand River.

ERIC FREEDMAN directs and writes for Michigan State University's Capital News Service.

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