We all need the lake and we all have a part to play in protecting it.
Say "pollution" and we'd bet most people think of an industrial plant belching smoke and dumping waste into a convenient stream, but great strides have been made in addressing that problem since the notorious days of the 1950s and 1960s, when the obituary was written for Lake Erie.
Less obvious is the so-called "nonpoint" pollution, where contaminants make their way to the lake from a myriad small, hard-to-pinpoint sources. Farm runoff -- fertilizers and weedkillers and insecticides washing into streams and into the lake -- is the most-often-cited source, even as most of us hold on to the picture of farming as the ultimate environmental activity.
It can be. Witness John Krumwiede's farming family of Florence Township, "Cooperators of the Year" in the Erie Soil and Water Conservation District, whose conservation efforts were detailed by reporter Tom Jackson in the Sept. 28 Register. From conservation tilling practices that minimize runoff to storage buildings that minimize the effects of spills, the Krumweides have gone all-out.
It makes business sense as well as economic sense, Krumwiede said. Some of the same practices that help prevent farm chemical runoff also help prevent soil runoff.
"That is maximizing your income," he said. "It costs you a lot of money when you lose soil."
The Krumwiedes represent the top end of what we all can do to protect a vital resource, one which provides drinking water, recreation, shipping and an increasingly important tourist business. At base, though, everything the Krumweides do can be summed up thus: Don't trash the place. For most of us, honoring that concept can be a simple as not tossing trash overboard from the boat or leaving it on the beach, or wherever we happen to be.
Everything we do around here, it seems, ends up affecting the lake for good or for ill.
And we all need the lake.