Sweet Water, the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, kicked off its new public awareness campaign yesterday - with a splash!
The simulated poop and fertilizer were there to represent two of the most common concerns for our natural water parks, pollution from "non-point sources," including you and me. A major feature of the campaign is to bring the public up to date on the main causes of water pollution, which has changed over the years from clearly identifiable industrial "point sources" to more widespread run off from streets, lawns, and farms.
Wisconsin, which invented the idea, has led the nation when it comes to water parks. Here is an archival image of one of the earliest water parks at Gordon Park on the Milwaukee River in 1921. A large lake was created behind the North Avenue dam, enabling Milwaukeeans to have a taste of the country just minutes away from downtown.
The highlight of yesterday's festivities was the dunk tank, which also was filled with (simulated) dog poop. After alderman Kovac (above), Neil Palmer, Village President of Elm Grove, took a turn. Former Brewer Jerry Augustine made the pitches.
One of the unfortunate side effects of excessive fertilizer getting into the waterways is an unhealthy build up of algae in ponds and lakes. I didn't have to go far after the ceremony to see an example. This pond, completely covered with a thick mat of algae, is right in Greenfield Park. The ducks that I discovered lingering along the edges did not swim away from me as I approached the bank. They flew off instead.
The Sweet Water website is beautiful, engaging, and also filled with helpful tips on how you can help minimize your own impact on our real water parks so that they will be healthy and appealing places to enjoy.