Welcome back ladies and gentlemen! Last week the staff of KOB and a few of our board members coordinated a cleanup at Arcadia Lake. Our desire to have a cleanup was sparked by a news article discussing the terrible conditions of the shoreline, and the difficulties the Lake Arcadia personnel have with tackling the amount of litter that can be seen floating in the water after a heavy rainfall. Prior to entering the lake grounds, my knowledge of Lake Arcadia and its role within our eco-system was very minimal, but after seeing the lake firsthand, speaking to the numerous people who work diligently to preserve its health and beauty I came away with an entirely new perspective.
Arcadia Lake is considered a watershed… now I totally get how that name provides zero clues as to what its actual function is, so I’ll provide you with the official definition of a watershed. According to Merriam Webster, a watershed is a region or area bounded peripherally by a divide that drains ultimately to a particular water source or body of water. In layman’s terms a watershed acts as a holding place for water. The human factor also makes watersheds a holding place for litter, debris, and whatever else is washed from our cities during a rain storm…people strike again. All sorts of random items can be found along the shoreline, for instance, a plastic cup someone carelessly tosses from their car or even a pair of shoes, which I always find that to be a mystery when I see a pair left behind. Some watersheds encompass thousands of miles and may contain streams, rivers, and lakes. The largest watershed in the United States is the Mississippi River, which happens to drain a whooping 1.15 square miles from all, or parts of 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces!
Arcadia Lake was worse than I could have imagined, and it was heartbreaking to see that amount of debris along the shoreline and what stood out the most was the amount of Styrofoam that was mixed in within the soil and floating on the water’s surface. I want to declare right here, right now, my extreme hate for Styrofoam plastic. Styrofoam actually never biodegrades it simply breaks into smaller and smaller pieces going on to be ingested by animals, mixing in with our water supply, and growing within our plants. There is NO escaping Styrofoam and it was by far the most found material at Arcadia Lake during our cleanup, also it was the most tedious to pick up, we all came away with the achy muscles to prove it. My desire to stand on a mountain top and scream out my hate for Styrofoam was replaced with the urge to pick up as many particles as I could filling the void of helplessness I felt. Arcadia Lake is Edmond’s main source of drinking water and is also the final resting place for litter that falls on the streets of Edmond and Oklahoma City, during a flood or heavy rain (which us Oklahomans know is pretty common) the cities storm water system collects the trash before flushing it into the lake… GROSS!
Now don’t worry about the safety of your drinking water too much because the city is required to treat the water and test its quality before it makes it to our homes for drinking purposes. The fact is though, as much as the water is treated for our sake, there is nothing that can be done for the untreated water that is in the lake that animals must live in, or around. The lake staff holds frequent cleanup events for anyone that may feel inspired to get involved, and trust me any lake, river, creek or ocean would benefit greatly from our positive involvement. The most important step in protecting our watersheds both locally and globally is to stop litter from ever making its way there. We must stop littering, join forces and pick up litter even if we aren’t the cause and motivate our community members to do the same. I will leave you with this cute, but effective message; If every person picked up just one piece of litter per day our impact would be astronomical.
As always remember to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle green friends!
KOB’s very own,