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July is Lakes Appreciation Month! Polk County, our 17 Municipalities, along with the Lakes Education Action Drive Board of Directors would like to encourage our residents and visitors to get involved and appreciate our beautiful lakes. LEAD is taking the lead (pun intended) here in Polk County to host a Lakes Appreciation Challenge. We want to invite you to participate in the “Show Your Lakes Appreciation Challenge”, social media lake selfie photo contest.

Between now and July 31st take a selfie while cleaning on one of Polk County’s lakes, tag the Lakes Education Action Drive on Instagram and use the hashtag #PolkLakeSelfie. One lucky winner will receive a $100 Gift Card from the Andy Thornal Company provided by Watson Clinic. Other entries may receive a gift card from Fred’s Market Restaurant and additional outdoor gift cards from Andy Thornal Company. For more information Follow Us on Instagram.

And, for more information on the origin of Lakes Appreciation Month, listen to our latest podcast on Podbean. On this podcast, we speak with Steve Lundt, the Senior Water Quality Scientist for Metro Water Recovery. Formed in 1961, Metro Water Recovery is the largest wastewater treatment provider in the Rocky Mountain West.

Steve has worked on lakes and reservoirs for the past 25 years as a Certified Lakes Manager. He has been on the board of the North American Lakes Management Society (NALMS), CLRMA, Barr/Milton Watershed Association, and other lake related organizations. Besides a background in lake monitoring, Steve has a long background in watershed management, public education, and outreach about water quality topics.

NALMS mission is simple, but a powerful one: to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs, for today and tomorrow. NALMS does not focus on professionals, academic researchers, or any small interest group alone; rather, NALMS is a melting pot, welcoming anyone interested in lakes.

Danny Kushmer, Executive Director

For Lakes Appreciation Month, Polk County and the Cities of Lakeland, Lake Wales, Haines City, and Lake Alfred recognized the importance of protecting our most valuable resource.

The North American Lakes Management Society launched Lake Awareness Week in 1998 to focus attention on lakes and reservoirs and their unique value, as well as the management issues they face. In 2003, Lake Awareness Week became Lakes Appreciation Month, held annually in July. Lakes Appreciation Month has helped raise awareness on lake issues and helped local groups share their success stories with a broader audience.

Boating, fishing and swimming are all favorite recreational uses of American lakes and reservoirs. Lakes and reservoirs also play other vital and often hidden roles. They provide drinking water and irrigation water for agricultural fields and are a source of electricity and power generation.

They also serve the important function of absorbing rainfall and runoff from land, help to prevent floods, and provide homes for precious wildlife.  As we enjoy and use lakes, we must protect them because lake pollution is caused by so many different activities. Education and outreach aimed at changing individual behavior are key components to any successful lake protection effort.

Here in Polk County, that means an opportunity to celebrate our beautiful lakes (over 500 lakes). Lakes Education/Action Drive (LE/AD), along with the City of Haines City, City of Lakeland, City of Winter Haven, Keep Winter Haven Clean & Beautiful, Polk County Board of County Commissioners and Keep Polk County Beautiful are helping to coordinate their efforts with one goal in mind – removing trash from our lakes and leaving Polk County’s lakes better than they were before!

And, You Can Help Too! For as little as $25 you can be a member of the Lakes Education Action Drive supporting educational programs throughout the year designed to improve the quality of our lakes. JOIN TODAY by going to our home page and click the PayPal link at the bottom.

The Secchi Dip-In was founded in 1994 by Dr. Robert Carlson and demonstrates the potential of citizen scientists working together to gather important information on our lakes and reservoirs. Individuals in volunteer monitoring programs across North America take a transparency measurement of their lake or reservoir in July to produce a continent-wide snapshot of water clarity. To date, over 50,000 Secchi readings have been collected as a part of the program, engaging hundreds of citizen scientists. The Dip-In is a leader in connecting lake lovers to water quality monitoring data.

The first Secchi Dip-In began as a pilot study by Drs. Robert Carlson, Dave Waller and Jay Lee from Kent State University. During Dip-In ’94, over 800 volunteers from six Midwest states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) participated, representing a 40% response from the initial solicitation. The results from the first Dip-In suggested that regional patterns in transparency did exist, appearing to correlate with land use and whether the water body was a natural lake or a reservoir.

In 1995, the Dip-In expanded to include volunteers across the entire United States and volunteers from estuary and river volunteer programs were also included. Over 2,000 volunteers from 37 states and 2 provinces of Canada participated in this first year of the expanded program. Click here to find out more.