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The murky water pouring into Geneva Lake in the Buttons Bay area continues to continue to make swimming an exercise in frowning apprehensive hesitancy. In the beginning of June, the muddy water was first brought to the public’s attention when it was only visible in a small area in front of the culvert it travels through under South Lake Shore Drive. As you read this article, it now covers the entire Bigfoot Beach swimming area and goes out a little beyond that. This issue has been a growing concern of many in the area.

The Geneva Shore Report has been watching this developing problem daily, as has the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency (GLEA). The GLEA is a great organization that is determined to maintain the quality of Geneva Lake. GSR Reporters spoke with the GLEA Executive Director Ted Peters about it. Peters agreed that the problem is worse than it has been in past years, and is becoming more concerning every day. The GLEA has a theory about the water that, if pushed, it will discuss. Ted Peters believes the brown, muddy-appearing water is groundwater coming down through the culvert. Groundwater originates from rain, melting snow and ice that collects and flows beneath the ground’s surface and fills cracks and spaces in the soil and rocks. It is only natural for groundwater to end up in our lakes and rivers but there is nothing natural looking about the water currently flowing into Buttons Bay.

Ted shared some science behind the origins and effects of groundwater, and the low oxygen levels and high phosphorus levels that ground waters create in the lake. This water can have a serious adverse effect on the aquatic life in the lake. Ted Peters has received many calls from concerned residents around the lake and shares their concerns. Buttons Bay is not the only area around Geneva Lake were murky water has been seen, but it seems to be the one area most affected.

Another very valid issue that has been brought up is the possibility the groundwater has made its way through the landfill that used to rest quite close to the Buttons Bay area years ago. That area is private posted property now, so it is difficult for anyone to get permission to go and examine the area directly. So, what can, and what will, be done to protect Geneva Lake? The GLEA has three main concerns with the muddy waters:
1) the visual issue
2) the low oxygen levels impacting the lake
3) and the high phosphorous levels the waters bring into the lake.

The GLEA has tested the water and will continue to do daily tests as the summer goes by. Ted Peters and the GLEA are working on resolving this issue. The GSR will be meeting with Peters again, as more information becomes available and more questions are answered. It is still very much a problem, albeit not one discussed anywhere outside the pages of the GSR, that this runoff (or whatever it is) basically ruins the swimming part of the BigFoot Beach area. The boat flotilla just offshore remains unaffected. For years many forces have combined to attempt to get the free beach pried loose from the primarily Hispanic population that loves to picnic and swim there. The infamous wasp infestation was one attempts, the closing of the bathroom another, and then the cutting down of the shade trees occurred. Is this murky mess the final blow in attempting to rid this free beach of the wonderful people who’ve used it for so many years?


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