Residents of the Midwest rely on the water quality of the Great Lakes for daily needs; one need not look further than the recent water contamination of Lake Erie for proof of this. This water contamination, which resulted in a 3 day period without drinking water, was caused by an ‘algal bloom’, or the rapid accumulation of algae. Algal blooms are the result of nutrient pollution, and are further enhanced by the loss of wetlands, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. In some cases, like the recent events in Lake Erie, the bloom releases natural toxins which can be harmful to human health.
In light of the crisis in Toledo, the City of Chicago has increased its water testing. This is a step in the right direction; however, it is crucial for Chicago to take preventative measures by reducing nutrient runoff in order to minimize the risk of algal blooms occurring in the first place.
At home, you can help reduce runoff by adopting a Natural Lawn Care routine. Natural Lawn Care includes, but is certainly not limited to, fertilizing organically, avoiding the use of pesticides or other additive chemicals, watering only as needed, choosing native plants, and using climate-friendly tools. Such practices will reduce the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that are washed away from your lawn and into drinking water sources. Aside from preventing run-off, Natural Lawn Care provides several other benefits, such as climate change reduction. Reducing your output of nutrient pollution is a great start to choosing a better future for our Great Lakes. Don’t forget, though, that you can take action to ensure the City of Chicago does its share as well. Everyone, from residents to corporations to city and state government, is responsible for keeping our Great Lakes clean and safe.