Did you hear what Ole COVID-19 said?

“Go jump in the lake!”

School is out or online. Mama and Daddy must work at home. Stores closed. Can’t shop. Can’t invite friends over. Can’t go to the playground …

“Hey, wait a minute. Let’s go to the lake, where there’s a 41,150-acre playground, full and ready.” 

Retail stores may be struggling, but the marinas are bustling. Lines of boats to be serviced. Captains best make appointments. Gas is pumping like every day is a holiday weekend. 

Social distancing is no problem around Lake Martin. Walk down a country road. COVID-19 didn’t bother the trees and wildflowers. Wave at the neighbors. Raft up out in the lake, with passengers staying a safe distance aboard; or jump in where there is lots of distance to spare.

One of our favorite social distancing methods is tying our boat to a neighbor’s dock. We stay aboard while neighbors are comfortably seated on their pier. We sip and visit as the sun sets, spraying pinks and reds across the sky. Ahh, we all enjoy this Treasured Lake – the only one in Alabama. 

Meanwhile, we are all vigilant, working hard to protect ourselves from this coronavirus. Even as the quarantine begins to lift, we have learned much about how to keep ourselves healthy. We will continue to be vigilant, always checking to see from where this virus might be coming. 

Our Treasured Lake must be protected in the same way. There is a big difference: Eventually, a vaccine will be developed to ward off COVID-19. No such vaccine will ever permanently guard these waters. We must be the vaccine that immunizes our lake. 

The simplest way to inoculate our Treasured Lake is for everybody to start: Do not toss any trash in the water or leave messes on the shoreline. Not any. Even just one little cup would make a difference. One cup multiplied by hundreds of boats, and our lake is a garbage dump.

 If you see one cup – can, plastic bag, bait cup, flabby swim noodle floating – pick it up. Take it home. Make a game: Whoever picks up the most wins a prize. 

Be careful what you do in your own lakeside yard. Runoff from certain lawn fertilizers contains chemicals that will encourage toxic algae, a problem we have so far avoided.

Join Lake Watch of Lake Martin. This organization began years ago when chemicals were being dumped into the lake. This toxic practice was stopped, and Lake Watch was born. Lake Watch members not only sponsor workshops to educate the next generation but also promote legislation protecting our public waters; expansion of the Alabama Water Watch program; and specifically, monitoring for pollution problems on Lake Martin. Most recently, Lake Watch is actively assessing the threat that chicken houses pose to the streams that feed Lake Martin. 

Jump in. Become a water monitor. Unlike arguments about how and what to do about this coronavirus, checking for the presence of “ailments” in our own water is already standard practice. Thanks to volunteer monitors, bacterial and chemical testing is conducted at points around the lake, but most importantly, more testing is needed. You are needed. You will learn step-by-step how to test, receive all supplies and start testing. Visit the website at www.lakewatch.orgfor more information.

Join us for a clean, healthy “disease-free” lake. 

~ Joanne Cunningham Walker is a member of Lake Watch Lake Martin. Learn more at www.lakewatch.org.