In Arthurian legend, the Lady of the Lake was Vivien, daughter of Diones and lover of Merlin the Magician from whom she learned magic and the occult arts. She raised Lancelot and delivered Excalibur to Arthur. She symbolizes harmony, serenity, healing, moderation, and the ability to change. This is only one of many descriptions of her, but they all fall into the same categories.
How does this translate to modern times in Knoxville on Lake Loudoun and its watershed?
Let's look at the first few things she symbolizes: harmony and serenity. To float, row, or motor in any direction on our beautiful lake is to experience the harmony and serenity of the water with the land and the abundant trees that line our shores, as well the animals both in and around the water. Then there's the possibility of arriving at some kind of internal harmony with in ourselves.
She next represents healing, which is what our dear lake needs when its human occupants do not honor her beauty by littering and polluting, both consciously and unconsciously. Pollution is a kind of sickness that our lake is victim to, coming from unmonitored runoff from construction, parking lots, and polluted stormwater; it is an unfortunate trash culture she inherited. So healing, of this mess and its source, is needed. Our team at Fort Loudoun Lake Association is on the water daily doing our best to monitor this sickness and try to "heal" it by removing trash and debris and conducting biological testing. We must realize that the pollution comes from the highways, street, trails, parks and yards before it even hits the tributaries where it is carried to our lake.
Our Lady symbolizes moderation. We could all use some moderation, and she would like to see moderation in some of the crazier behavior on her water. She loves to have fun but hates to see anyone get hurt on her watch. So what this means for us is to be responsible and respect her waters for both the fun and danger that is available. Moderation also affects our usage of clean water vs. use of recycled or free rainwater to use for gardening and lawn care. Look for a Rain Barrel class and make your own.
Last, she stands for the ability to change. This concept can make the biggest difference for the health of our lake. We all can get stuck in our ways and habits. It has been proven that the ability to shift and change behavior makes for a healthier, more versatile, and agile body and brain. We must "think clean" before we can "act clean" and knowledge is power. For example, the chemicals used in a car wash or pressure wash run directly off your car down the dirty and oily driveway directly into our stormwater drainage system and into our lake. Fertilizers, animal waste, automotive fluids also become unconscious perpetrators. Would you like to swim or better yet drink this mixture? I don't think so.
Michael Gaugler, our staff scientist who teaches best-management practices about pollution prevention, offers a few tips: "Some changes in behavior would be to catch automotive fluids and take them to a recycling center, don't fertilize right before it rains, and use biologically stable fertilizers, mulch grass clippings, and reuse or bag them up so they do not clog and pollute our drainage. Look for car washes that recycle their water and filter the runoff like 3 Minute Magic Carwash. If you pick up and keep up with your animals waste, this makes a big difference in the E. coli runoff."
One of our managers tested for E. coli counts in front of the "Doggy Park" at Concord marina and found it was extremely low. This is because the owners are compelled to pick up after their animals. It makes a difference and you can, too.
You can be an advocate of clean water by just "thinking clean" when you make choices. Ask yourself, will this end up in the river? If you leave or do anything outside of a proper receptacle, the answer will most likely be YES. I asked a friend of mine, Jay Apking, what his thoughts were on the health of our water and he said, "The health of a community is dependent on the vibrancy of its water. That was true in the old times and remains true today. We need our lakes to be vibrant for the reputation of our city."
We love our part of the Tennessee River so let's work together to keep her healthy. For more information about what you can do, go to epa.gov; or to help out and volunteer in your community, go to the Fort Loudoun Lake Association's website fllake.org.
Angela Howard is the director of the Fort Loudoun Lake Association. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.