Welcome to the lake! Doesn’t it look inviting on a 90 degree, humid summer day? We spend a lot of time here during the summer. I grew up vacationing on this lake, splashing and swimming right here. Playing in inner tubes, real inner tubes from truck tires and jumping off the end of the dock.
Now my children are doing the same. Our son is just beginning to get the hang of real swimming. He finally gained the confidence to jump off the end of the dock toward the end of last summer. He is also finally long enough to sit in the inner tubes and float around. Our daughter has had a lot of apprehension with water in the past but is now finally beginning to love it.
I was very much looking forward to this summer and enjoying their increasing love for and abilities in the water.
That is until they dumped a bunch of poison in the lake less than two weeks ago. We arrived on this trip to the following, posted around the lake perimeter.
Now we knew this was coming, the property owner’s association has been host to many heated discussions in the last couple years on the topic of how to combat a weed infestation that has nearly ceased boating operations on this all sports lake. This weed is Eurasian Watermilfoil. It originated in Europe and Asia but has now become prevalent in may lakes in the United States and is spread from lake to lake by hitchhiking aboard boats and boat trailers. I’m talking weeds so thick that you would swear you could walk across the water on top of them. For the last couple of years, the association attempted to control the weeds with biological control bugs called weevil, however, even highly dense stocking of these bugs could not keep up with the spread of the weeds. So, long story short, here we are with a big pesticide filled body of water.
The aquatic herbicides used were:
- 2, 4-D (Brand name Navigate)
- Chelated Copper (Brand name Cutrine Ultra)
- Triclopyr (Brand name Navitrol)
Are you still ready to jump in on this hot summer day? Well, let’s look back at that notice. Oh look, we’re cool. They said we can resume swimming the day after the application. But just don’t water your ornamental flowers, use the water for domestic purposes, use it for agricultural irrigation or feed it to your livestock (but your pets are ok to drink it??).
I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not diluted and clean enough to water my flowers with, but I can soak my body in it? I’m just not feeling good about this. So to my son’s dismay, I will not allow him to touch the water until I can gain some more information and confidence that this water is safe to be bathing in. Call me crazy. Call me overprotective. But if there is one eye opening piece of knowledge that I have gained since learning more and more about our food system, it’s that I do not trust the EPA, the FDA, chemical companies or any other organization to adequately protect me from products that could have huge detrimental effects on my family’s health and safety. Only I can adequately protect the well being of my family and I’m saying that I am not comfortable with the situation of swimming in a lake treated with four different chemicals, particularly the day after application, nor several days after for that matter.
So it’s time to do some homework. As I search the internet for health risks of these chemicals, I’m running into many redundant references to their labels and their “approval” by the EPA. That means very little to me since just as like with food, labels are often misleading and selective in content. So far, all that I’m finding is not giving me any warm and fuzzy feelings about the swimming situation.
Let me just refer to the first chemical listed, 2,4-D. Here’s a little except from the website of Washinton Toxics Coalition:
2,4-D (brand names include Navigate®‚ Aqua-Kleen®, and others):
2,4-D is a relatively fast-acting, systemic herbicide (meaning that it kills the entire plant and root structure) which has been shown to be selective towards Eurasian watermilfoil. Although widely used in America and across the world, 2,4-D is considered to be “highly toxic” since it is a severe eye irritant know to cause irreversible damage. And because 2,4-D has high mobility in soil, it is able to travel through soil pathways and into groundwater, contaminating wells located near an aquifer or waterbody treated with 2,4-D.
In nature, 2,4-D has an adverse effect on a number of species. 2,4-D has been shown to reduce the rate of survival in ducks and waterfowl. 2,4-D is acutely toxic to fish, including salmon and especially juvenile salmon. Concentrations of less that 1 part per million of 2,4-D in water have been shown to be highly lethal to endangered Chinook salmon smolts and fry, and to juvenile pink salmon and chum salmon as well. It has also been shown to impair the ability of some salmon to capture food and develop normally. 2,4-D has exhibited detrimental effects on a number of other fish and wildlife species.
Interesting information I found when searching another of the chemicals was this from The National Pesticide Information Center:
In water, triclopyr is mainly broken down by exposure to sunlight. The half-life of triclopyr in water ranges from 1 to 10 days depending on water conditions (1, 10).
At this point, I’m really not sure when I will allow my children to enter this water again. Certainly, at least not until ALL restrictions are lifted. I really need to know more. But in the meantime, we are exploring many new to us beaches in the area. Once again, we are enjoying the adventures, seeing sights and making memories. It really doesn’t matter where we are swimming this summer as long as we are having fun together.