It’s summer and time for fishing, boating, swimming, and all around enjoyment of the myriad water opportunities that our county has to offer. We have jewels in our own backyards — Alum Creek Reservoir, Hoover Reservoir, Delaware Lake Reservoir, and O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, along with all of the rivers and streams that feed those lakes. Whether your idea of fun is a quiet morning kayaking, splashing at the beach with the kids, or zooming around water skiing, our rivers and lakes are full of summer fun.
Our local water resources provide not only outstanding recreational opportunities but are important in a couple of other ways. First, outdoor water recreation is a huge industry. Equipment, supplies, gas, food, licenses and registrations, overnight accommodations, and other expenditures associated with outdoor water pursuits all contribute to our local economy. Second, our rivers and lakes supply drinking water and wildlife habitat for fish and other aquatic and terrestrial species. Just think how different life would be if the water was full of trash, sewage, toxic waste, invasive species, dead fish, animal manure, gasoline and motor oil. Who would want to bird watch on the boardwalk at Galena? Eat a locally caught bluegill? Swim at the Alum Creek State Park or Delaware State Park beaches?
In Delaware County we all live upstream of a stream, river or lake. Rainfall runoff and snowmelt influence the quality of our water resources and we can have a direct impact on that quality with our everyday actions. Here are some ways you can enjoy your fun in and on the water while doing your part to keep our waters clean:
• Leave only your footprints at the beach. Dispose of all trash properly. Cigarette butts and plastic look like food to wildlife and are especially dangerous.
• Collect and recycle or properly dispose of used fishing line which is hazardous to wildlife and boating.
• Live bait and fish waste should be disposed of properly, too. There is concern about invasive earthworms, particularly the night crawler (Lumbricus terrestris), negatively altering northern hardwood forest soils.
• Do not transfer bait fish or any plants and animals from one body of water to another because of the risk of spreading invasive species. Prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals by cleaning and drying all items that come in contact with the water such as clothes, pets, fishing gear, watercraft, tubes and skis, towels, oars, and paddles, etc.
• Use steel sinkers or washers instead of lead sinkers when fishing.
• Big waves cause shoreline erosion increasing turbidity in the water. Go slowly and follow all posted speed limits.
• All kinds of great information can be found at watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/publications. Take the Ohio Clean Boater Pledge which can be accessed at ohiocleanboater.osu.edu along with a variety of tip sheets.
• And of course, always make safety your number one priority. Never participate in water activities alone and know your abilities.
For ideas on water friendly measures you can implement at home along with our upcoming programs, visit our website at www.delawareswcd.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Remember that Saturday, Aug. 18, is our first ever free Farm Tour from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., promising fun for the whole family. Details on each stop along with a map can be found on our website.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.