Field Notes

July 7, 2020

Why do clean, healthy, safe and beautiful lakes matter to our community?

By Caitlin Yoder and Sarah Baier

No matter who you are, or where you live in Kosciusko County, you are a part of the biotic, or living, community. The Lilly Center is dedicated to providing experiences and resources to help you learn about all the ways you can enjoy the benefits of your part in the land and water and find out how you can make small changes to increase your positive effect on our natural resources. But why does a healthy “water ethic” matter?

4 key reasons for a healthy water ethic

Kosciusko County is home to 100+ lakes and more than 600 miles of streams. We’re surrounded by water at all times, but we might not be aware of its importance to our individual lives.

I (Caitlin) grew up in Warsaw, a city known for its rich lake life, but I spent the better part of my childhood fairly unconnected from lake experiences.  I still see this trend in the K-12 students that come through our doors for field trips.  I would say that almost ⅓ to ½ of the students have never visited a local lake. So what does this mean? Are those of us who don’t frequent lakes unaffected by what occurs in and around the water?

The answer is, of course, a resounding no. No one is disconnected from the natural world. Our actions have an impact on its health, and on the health of those who inhabit it! We’ll feel the ripple effects of the quality of our water resources in both positive and negative ways:

  1. Economically: Kosciusko County lakes contribute over $313 million dollars to our economy annually, as we discovered through our 2016 Economic Impact Study. Healthy lakes are foundational to a healthy local economy because they draw in visitors, permentant and seasonal homeowners, and lake-related businesses.
  2. Socially: Many of our community gathering spaces are located by the lakes, including restaurants, parks and community centers. The lakes provide a unique and beautiful backdrop for families and friends to create memories.
  3. Physically (Health): The link between human health and water quality is undeniable. Healthy aquatic habitats reduce risks from insect borne illness, hazardous algae blooms and drinking water contamination. And all kinds of lake recreation (water skiing, wake boarding, tubing and more) can take place on a healthy lake!
  4. Emotionally: An increased availability of and access to natural spaces have been proven to promote emotional and mental health by providing a calm, restorative and serene refuge. 

Data-driven and connection-focused

At the Lilly Center, our data drives our actions, but this ethic of interconnectedness and community motivate us as we strive to make our lakes clean, healthy, safe and beautiful.

Aldo Leopold, a leader in land ethic, said “Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community [including those that live within it]. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” 

We want to equip you to develop your own land and water ethic! Our event series (including webinars, lunch & learns, expeditions and more) will give you hands-on, memorable ways to protect and fully enjoy local lakes and streams. Start learning today!