In the Brainerd lakes area, we love our lakes as a place to live, to recreate, to vacation, to relax and to find serenity in our busy lives. Our lakes are part of our heritage and part of our legacy, and they hold a special place in our hearts.
We love our lakes so much we risk loving them to death. While Crow Wing County and its lakes are unique, they are also changing. Overuse, overdevelopment, encroaching exotic species and other pollution problems can threaten the future quality of our water resources.
Crow Wing County is unique because:
-- Lakes make up 25 percent of the county's surface acres; 50 percent of the county is wet.
-- There are 416 lakes over 10 acres in size.
-- Pelican Lake is the largest lake contained totally in the county with 8,468 acres; Whitefish Lake is the second largest at 7,969 acres.
Why it is important to protect our lakes:
-- The soil around most of the lakes in Crow Wing County is sandy and porous, which is highly susceptible to groundwater contamination.
-- There are 40,000 septic systems and private wells in the county. State figures say on average 20-40 percent are not conforming to standards and may be polluting our waters.
-- Tourism brings more than $430 million each year into the local economy and accounts for $177 million in wages paid. Tourism depends on clean lakes and a healthy environment.
-- The county population has increased 45 percent since 1990, primarily in the lake regions.
-- Thirty-three percent of the properties in Crow Wing County are seasonal properties.
Our lakes are important to our economy and our quality of life. Protecting our lakes is everyone's responsibility, whether you live on a lake or not. Human activity on land can greatly accelerate the aging process of a lake and change the nature of water quality in the span of a few decades.
It's not too late to protect our waters. Watch this column over the next 12 weeks for simple tips on loving our lakes properly.
(Sponsored by the Crow Wing County Water Planning Board and the Minnesota Lakes Association.)
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.