After conducting six interviews with policy actors and spending weeks talking to local residents about Lake Menomin, I’m feeling more and more torn. Many people that I’ve spoken to have told me that the lake is unusually clear this season because of the increased rainfall and I know that I did not truly believe that the lake could become so green until I saw a growing patch of algae myself. I look at the lake on beautiful days like the one in this picture and I can’t help but feel a sense of wonder that something so beautiful can become so mucky.
Public opinion on cleaning up the lake seems to be polarized—some people have expressed excitement and hopefulness, whereas others described attempts to clean up the lake as a waste of time. We’re still figuring out the sources and possibilities for reducing non-point sources of phosphorus in the lake, and even though we’re seeing progress being made in environmental regulations, some of the negative comments lurk in the back of my mind.
Is imagining a clean lake a fantasy?
When I begin to doubt myself, I always try to remind myself of the times when my doubts were proven wrong. For example, I thought I would never see a rainbow in real life, and I saw my first clear rainbow right in the middle of downtown Menomonie. I understand that seeing is believing and I want to see a real change in the lake. Although it will likely take decades for Lake Menomin’s water quality to improve, I’m still determined to be a part of the effort to prove another non-believer wrong.