The great stink

Section: 
Editorial

For centuries, the people of London, England dumped human, animal and industrial waste into the Thames River.

They eventually paid for their abuse of the Thames.

In 1858 (called the year of The Great Stink) an overwhelming stench coming from the surface of the river brought the city to its knees.

 The smell in the new Parliament Buildings on the banks of the Thames was so bad that the curtains were doused with chloride and lime to try and cut the smell. Those who could, left the city.

People demanded action from their government and the politicians could no longer get away with ignoring the problem. Parliament finally passed a law that year to build a sewage system for the city of London.

Funny how politicians can ignore real problems for so long.

In south-east Florida, where one of my sons lives, the St. Lucie River and estuary is polluted on a regular basis when the U.S. federal government opens the dikes to lower the level of Lake Okeechobee. After heavy rains last summer, levels in the lake were too high and more than 136-billion gallons of polluted water were released into the St. Lucie. The state announced a couple weeks ago that the bacteria levels have dropped and it is now safe to swim in the river and estuary.

The influx of fresh water from the Okeechobee wiped out the oyster population and killed sea grass in the estuary. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake water spurred toxic algae blooms and the murky water caused the fish and the seabirds to go elsewhere. People want action.

This time, something might be done about the problem. The governor and his opponent in this year’s election are both outlining plans to solve the problem.

And that brings us closer to home. The Asian Carp are moving ever closer to The Great Lakes.  The Carp, which grow as big as a child, play havoc with any ecosystem that they manage to reach. It would be the end of The Great Lakes fishing industry if they get established in one of the lakes. Scientists say 10 pairs of carp could populate The Great Lakes.

The U.S. says it will cost $18 billion to stop the carp from gaining a foothold. Will it spend the money now to stop the fish or wait until the carp gain a foothold in the lakes? And will Ontario and the federal government do their part?

We’ll soon find out.

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As you likely figured from reading the above, we’re in Stuart, Florida visiting our son and daughter-in-law, Caleb and Mary Ann.

Bruce County has had some bad weather of late, but it’s not alone.

Last Thursday in Stuart, it started to rain about 4 p.m. By 11 p.m. the rain stopped, but not before 13 inches of rain had fallen. On a 50-mile stretch along the coast, between eight and 13 inches fell. The rain came down in buckets and was powered by strong winds, making for poor visibility. There was a lot of flooding in some areas and two people drowned after their car went off the road.

Believe it or not, none of the professional meteorologists at the four competing television stations predicted the once-in-a-100-year rainfall.

Sounds like weather forecasters everywhere are still learning.

They learned an old saying last week that got a lot of play in the U.S. – Arctic Vortex.