By Steve Weisman
Clean water was the major focus in the Iowa Great Lakes the week of August 7-12. The Soil demonstration evening was Wednesday, Prairie Lakes Conference was Thursday and Friday, and the Okoboji Blue Water Festival was Friday and Saturday. That made for four days of education and celebration. As an outdoorsman and a person who hopes we can leave this world in a better place for future generations, this was a great week for me. To me, clean water is about smart conservation.
I don’t know how many times I heard over the course of those four days that we have the technology and the knowledge. We know what we need to do to make our soil and water better. The bottom line is whether each one of us is willing to do our share. No matter where we live-farm, rural acreage, town or city, if we do our part, we can make a real difference.
Unfortunately, we often take offense to this idea and think that someone is trying to tell us what to do and how to do it. Then we get testy, dig in our heels and that’s that.
I heard professor put the clean water issue into perspective. “It took 150 years to get us where we are at. It’s become a generational problem. You don’t just turn things around with the snap of your fingers.”
All in it together
That was really the theme of the past week. “We are all in this together.” That old expression, “Water runs downhill,” has a profound impact on all of us. That is where we all come in. Water (rain or snow) lands on the ground, and we do our best to move that water. Unfortunately, that often means moving the water downstream for someone else to deal with. We have to find ways to slow this down, to let more of the water soak into the soil before it runs off.
I was very interested in what Jon Thelen, who presented the fishing seminar and was on the state panel, had to say about conservation and clean water.
Thelen, professional angler and host of Lindy’s Fish Ed television series, was adamant in both his seminar and as a panelist about how important clean water is to all of us. “The landscape has changed; our lakes have changed. Animals and fish can only adapt so much.”
Thelen continued, “We need to do all we can to ensure that we have clean water. It is an investment, and our economies revolve around it. We need to ask the hard questions and develop useful solutions, not just lip service about wanting to have clean water.”
Even though he is from Minnesota, Thelen could see how important our chain of lakes is to the local economy. He challenged those in attendance, “It is up to all of us. We need buy-in. We need to ask how much do we or how much are we willing to pay to have the best?”
Thelen also noted that whatever we do comes with a price. Whether we let our lakes slip and ignore water quality, or we truly attack runoff issues, there is a price to pay. Either way it will cost us. I hope we can come together to make the right decision!
This is just a peek at what this week was about. It was both meaningful and inspiring.