Not Idle Dreams: Clear Freshwater is within Reach

Stretching out on a chaise lounge, listening to the gentle lap of waves as the sun sets in the west. Idle dreams after a day spent on clear, delicious water.  Oh yes, and a fish fry for dinner.

a man rowing a boat through a pond, circling a floating island

Or—cleaning off the green gunk that chokes the prop of a motorboat while swatting at mosquitoes, and rushing to escape into a screened off porch!  Holding one’s breath so as not to inhale bio gas so concentrated that ignition seems possible.  Not the relatively neutral carbon dioxide associated with a swamp, but actual methane!

algae overgrown on a pond looks like green cotton gobs in water

Impaired freshwater releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Methane is a more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2. And nobody talks about it. But mitigating freshwater release of methane is an important piece of slowing climate change. And knowing that your lake is contributing to it is likely to give you nightmares!

“Even moderate increases in lake and surface water eutrophication over the next 50 years could be equivalent to adding 13 percent of the effect of the current global fossil fuel emissions,” according to John A. Downing, University of Minnesota Sea Grant director and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In his research, Downing says, “By keeping our community waters clean, we make better water available to future generations and we decrease worldwide emissions of methane that speed climate change.”

“By keeping our community waters clean, we make better water available to future generations and we decrease worldwide emissions of methane that speed climate change.”

John A. Downing, University of Minnesota Duluth

Today’s Lake Homeowner Associations (HOAs) pull scientists from their membership, folks that thought they were due a respite connected with retirement. They thought they’d be able to relax and dream in a chaise around their lake. But it smells bad and the fish die… For many of them, their work is just starting. Stewarding around viral pandemics, or stewarding around impaired water—both are fundamental.  But there is a silver lining.  Even a golden lining, when it comes to water.  

Clean water dreams can come true.

Generating sustainable solar energy from inland lakes is now real as FPV emerges as a practical solar alternative.  Eminently practical.  With interesting byproducts that include cooler surface water temperatures, less photosynthesis, an enhanced zone for biodiversity, protection from Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), clear, clean water, and even super enhanced fishing should that floating solar plan incorporate nature’s wetland effect from a floating island.  

Yuck. Algae soup*. Not a part of anyone’s dreams!

Owning a vacation cabin on a lake, or a year round home on a lake, used to be accompanied by the usual negative cash flow requirements.  That lake sucked up money that could better be spent elsewhere. Now, such properties bring another option with them.  Water combined with stewardship is the next oil.  People gravitate to edge habitat.  Coastlines, inland water shorelines, river frontage, ponds, all of the above.  With smart design, this edge habitat will retain and even expand its value.  Without, it will translate to serious negative cash flow, health hazards that frequently lead to desperate people reaching for chemical treatments and dealing with the corresponding associated risks.

I own and manage a small private lake.  I’ve been on the front line of the issue described here for more than a decade.  Two factors stand out.  First, most water is in a downward spiral, and is just getting worse, becoming even more of green, algal soup.  Fish die-offs, stench, mosquitoes, midge, and worse.

There is an alternative! Transition Water.  Wonderful clear water, biodiversity, damsel flies and fish, and overall incredibly energizing!  Transition Water that generates revenue, that more than pays the bills, and actually represents significant return-on-investment, that’s the language of smart stewardship, of sustainable design.  Just know that water is a point source for greenhouse gas.  Smart stewardship defines a way to cycle the causative nutrients that otherwise impair water, into revenue and high water quality.  It’s a terrific opportunity to do well by doing right.

giant fish string shows harvest of fish grown at the floating island lake
This guy is clearly living his dreams.

When I started to manage my private lake, water clarity was fourteen inches. It was not my clear water dream!  Today it is as much as nineteen feet.  Initially there was periodic fish die-off.  Today it’s an awesome fishery.  

 Tomorrow, the same lake will provide a monthly check.  Revenue.  Blue gold, so to speak.  And you don’t have to reinvent this transition process.   The heavy lifting has already been done.  And it does not call for chemicals.  Don’t fall for that misguided thinking from the past.  Instead, research “Biomimicry.”  And know that nature is way better at stewardship than we are.  Our job is to step aside from arrogance, and into collaborative stewardship.  

Smart stewardship defines a way to cycle the causative nutrients that otherwise impair water into revenue and high water quality.

Bruce Kania

There is a network of practitioners that engage in and advocate biomimicry today. There’s a university that offers a doctorate in the subject.   Reach out, do your diligence, and be part of sustainable transition.  During these “interesting” times, you are key to actual sustainability.  

Reach out to me directly to discuss whether BioHaven Floating Islands could be the answer you’ve been dreaming about.