Lake Macatawa is central to our community. There are many communities that don’t have a body of water of this size nearby, nor the opportunities for working and living alongside. While it does not have the best reputation, Lake Macatawa is an underutilized asset, which with some hard, devoted work, can be a shining centerpiece.
Lake Macatawa’s problems are not the result of fecal matter, sewage, or industrial sludge, but more seemingly innocent components. The lake gets its brown color from fine grains of sediment that remain easily suspended by waves and currents. Often attached to sediment is the nutrient phosphorus, which can be used by algae to replicate into large green blooms. Sunlight necessary for aquatic plants is blocked by the sediment, and dying algae remove oxygen from the water needed for many fish species. The result is a murky, dead-looking, uninviting lake.
Lake Macatawa was once called Black Lake, not because of pollution, because of the mucky bottom that could be seen through the clear water. In the late nineteenth century, weekend tourists would visit the area to enjoy Lake Macatawa, not just Lake Michigan, catching fish by the barrelful. The streams that flowed into it carried clean water, which supported people and wildlife alike. The change has happened slowly over many decades, and before we knew it, the lake was one of the most polluted in the state. These changes were the result of human activity, but different human activities can result in a healthier lake.
Why care about Lake Macatawa?
What is wrong with Lake Macatawa?
Does it have to be like this?