On Feb. 18, five county supervisors – Pat Craig, Bob Ellis, Darrell Handrich, Dennis Kussman and Gerald Murphy – voted to protect the long-term water quality of Waupaca County’s many beautiful lakes, rivers and streams.
They voted no to changing the county’s shoreland ordinance to allow property owners to create viewing corridors of 30 percent of their shoreline or 100 feet, whichever is less. Their vote supported the Zoning Committee recommendation to limit the viewing corridor to 30 feet. Eighteen county supervisors disregarded their Zoning Committee’s recommendation and voted to increase the viewing corridor, in effect, to allow changes that will hurt our lakes, rivers and streams in the long-term.
What difference can a 200 percent increase in allowable viewing corridor make? With vegetative buffers gone, the amount of runoff from rain and snow melt is markedly increased, taking with it road petroleum waste and chemicals that have been applied to yards.
More phosphorus and nitrogen go into the waterway, which increases plant and algae growth that can become troublesome to boaters, paddlers, swimmers and fish. Even more, the algae takes oxygen that the fish need.
But the worst is the amount of sediment that washes into the waterway. Sediment covers spawning beds for many fishes and chokes the small insects and other food for fish and wildlife at the water’s edge. The result is that fish don’t reproduce, and fish, turtles, frogs and birds don’t find the food they seek at the water’s edge. Wildlife has to look elsewhere to find food.
The end result is water that is cloudy, has less fish and wildlife, and waterfront property that is less valuable.
The supervisors must have been aware of the negative impact of their new ordinance. All shoreland property within 100 feet of a trout stream is still limited to a 30-foot viewing corridor. Is the water quality of a trout steam more important than the lake, river or stream that you love?