Iowa Great Lakes experts raise awareness for water quality
ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa (KTIV) -
It was a beautiful Saturday in the Iowa Great Lakes region for the 2nd annual Okoboji Blue Water Festival.
It was an excuse for families and friends to have fun on the water and partake in some kid-friendly activities, but the objective of the event is to promote water quality at the lakes.
The event was headlined by three panels of water quality experts from the local to state level.
Water quality at the Iowa Great Lakes Area has steadily improved over the years.
The experts say it's thanks to a number of factors: cooler climates, aquatic plant absorption, and planting cover crops.
But they admit there's room for improvement and it starts with everybody.
"They're doing it wrong, they're doing it wrong, it's not me. No, it's all of us. We all have to be in this fight together. Whatever the cause, we all have to work together and say, 'we can all do better,'" said water quality activist, Eric Hoein.
State experts say, although water quality in the Iowa Great Lakes is improving, the same can't be said for other bodies of water around the state.
They agree widespread participation is necessary, but say there needs to be incentive for people to want to keep their water clean.
"There are a lot of people willing to do things, but they need to have an economic incentive, right? It needs to be feasible for them as it does in a lot of places in Iowa. People want to go out and recreate but they want to catch that fish," said Tammie Krausman with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "That's really just going to be a reoccurring theme here with a lot of the challenges that get us from where we are now to where we want to be."
Local and state experts agree funding for water quality is still an issue.
Some say Iowa voters are in favor of increased funding, but it's still not getting through to the state legislature.
A number of green businesses were at the festival, as well, promoting water quality and other environmental-friendly ideas.
28 exhibitors pitched up tents along the green space at Arnolds Park and helped raise awareness for the clean water message.
"The reason people like coming to our community, come to enjoy our lakes, is because the water is clean. We need to do everything possible to maintain that clean water as well as improve it over time," said Joe Ulman with the Spirit Lake Protective Association.
Activists say the water quality at each of the lakes has improved in recent years, but the key is to sustain the environmental growth.
Parents brought their kids along to enjoy water-friendly activities.
"Eric Burdon & The Animals!" closed out the second year of the festival on the stage Saturday night.