• Last modified 2572 days ago (May 31, 2012)


Water quality needs more than lip service

It’s well past time for Marion County to wake up and smell the water. Blue-green algae isn’t just a stinky annoyance. It’s literally poisoning the county’s economic future.

Recreation and tourism are the county’s best hope for economic vitality, yet our hopes are being dashed by mandatory warnings from the state to avoid contact with water at both Marion Reservoir and Marion County Lake.

It’s an economic and environmental disaster — one that demands far more than just repeatedly wringing our hands over the intractability and expense of repairing the problem. Simply put, there’s been far too much lip and far too little service to date.

Getting rid of an algae bloom after it occurs figures to be prohibitively costly. Planting breaks to soak up runoff before it can impact lakes has so far been ineffective. The root cause appears to be land management, and that’s where the solution may need to be found.

No one wants to impose additional burdens on agricultural operators already hard-pressed to make a living. And no one should ever regard farmers as environmental enemies. Most are far better stewards of natural resources than are their city cousins who sometimes point fingers at them for algae outbreaks.

Tough times demand tough solutions, however. If what’s required is the creation of no-grazing or no-fertilizer zones in sensitive portions of the watershed, these steps should be taken. And the landowners involved should be compensated if their profitability is impacted.

No longer can we have the luxury of merely turning up our noses at the stinking toxicity that too often closes our county’s No. 1 and 2 tourist attractions. Officials need to provide leadership and action not discussion and excuses.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified May 31, 2012