Lake Superior Day Aims at Raising Clean Water Awareness

By Ivory Hecker

July 17, 2011 Updated Jul 17, 2011 at 10:51 PM CDT

SUPERIOR, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - The world's largest fresh water lake had its own annual celebration this weekend. Lake Superior Day was Sunday on Barker's Island, but events celebrating the lake took place all weekend.

"I thought we celebrate everything else, and we don't celebrate our greatest treasure which is Lake Superior," said Robert Browne, a member of the Lake Superior Bi-National Forum who was instrumental in the creation of Lake Superior Day.

The focus of the weekend's events was on keeping this fresh water body clean.

"Forty-three million people that live around the Great Lakes use the Great Lakes for their drinking water, so it's really incumbent upon us to educate everybody [about] how important Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes are to all of us," said Browne.

He says it's important to think about what you flush down the drain, because much of that water ends up back in Lake Superior.

"Please don't try to pour any chemicals, medicines and things like that down the drain, because now it's even got so bad that it's starting to affect the fish with all the medicines that are going into Lake Superior," said Browne.

Rain barrels and rain gardens were a couple of the displays showing ways the amount of water that goes into the lake can be reduced, thereby reducing the amount of pollution in the lake.

"The rain barrels go underneath a gutter down spout [and] collect rain water," said Cameron Bertsch, an engineering technician for the Douglas County Land Conservation Department. "By keeping as much of the water up around people's houses for longer during a storm and not letting it go down to the lake, that reduces the amount of flow into the waste water treatment systems."

Rain gardens are aimed at creating the same containment effect.

"In any rain garden there's usually a depression - a bowl - that collects rain water off of your property," said Paul Hlina, owner of Leaning Pine Native Landscapes. "Storm water on our residential or commercial properties runs off into streams and ponds and brings with it its associated debris which can cause harm to the system, so these plants - putting them on the landscape assists in keeping the water on the landscape instead of running off into our waters."

The DNR was also available to give instructions on preventing the spread of invasive species in Lake Superior, and the day's festivities included an awards ceremony recognizing people and businesses that are doing good things for the environment.

By Ivory Hecker