Save the Lakes seeks to make waves statewide

Organization holds Lake and Watershed Annual Forum in a pavilion at Johnston’s War Memorial Park

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Lake lovers gathered in Johnston to form an action plan aimed at saving the Ocean State’s freshwater lakes.

The organization Save the Lakes (STL) held its Lake and Watershed Annual Forum in a pavilion at Johnston’s War Memorial Park last Wednesday.

Judy Colaluca, President and Co-founder of Save the Lakes, said the group’s “mission is to get some knowledge out there.”

She said that STL members receive information on current and critical lake issues through email communications, access to environmental agency personnel at forums and workshops, and opportunities to network with other members at live events.

The organization wants to save “every lake in the state,” said Marsha Czubak, a member from Johnston.

“We’re trying to make people aware of their water, and how to keep it clean,” Czubak said. “People need to know that even fertilizer on their lawns goes into lakes. It all flows down.”

Save The Lakes was founded as the only statewide organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s lakes, ponds and fresh water resources, according to the group’s website.

“We provide a forum for education, discussion and action on lake-related issues; we advocate for better fresh water management policies at the local, state and federal levels,” according to Save the Lakes.

The organization is managed entirely by volunteers and is a non-profit group.

We are supported almost exclusively through membership dues and donations, which are fully tax deductible,” according to Save the Lakes. “Members are encouraged to join one of STL’s committees to become actively engaged in critical issues and interesting challenges, while gaining valuable information on lake and watershed issues.”

 “If you are a permanent or part-time lake area residents, recreational lake user, lake area or lake dependent business, we encourage you to join STL and support our efforts for your lake’s sake,” according to the STL website.

This year’s Save The Lakes Annual Forum was held Wednesday, May 26, in the Dunn Building Pavilion in Johnston’s War Memorial Park. For more information, to join or donate, go to the organization’s website, www.stlri.org.

Colaluca wrote a letter to her members and the public, in an effort to spur awareness and increase membership.

“Save The Lakes, Inc. is a growing organization with the primary purpose of addressing the needs of all fresh water bodies in Rhode Island,” she wrote. “While we may be the Ocean State, we all need fresh water to live. It’s a natural resource that can’t be neglected and can’t be replaced once it’s gone. Fresh water is critical for all life today and for the future of our children and grandchildren. We must not take it for granted!”

She warned that many of life’s daily activities affect local lakes, ponds and streams.

“Polluted runoff from roads, lack of maintenance of dams, movement of invasive plants and unwanted animal species, trash and litter, septic drainage directly or indirectly seeping into groundwater, the use of excess lawn fertilizers and phosphates, compost runoff, filling of shoreline, clearing of shoreline vegetation, and so much more,” she wrote. “There is much work to be done to protect and restore these critical local gems!”

Colaluca described her organization as “a diverse group of concerned citizens working together to address the issues impacting our fresh water bodies.”

The group plans and presents educational programs across Rhode Island. They are particularly concerned with addressing invasive species in lakes and ponds. The group can also instruct members on how to set up a boat inspection station at the boat ramps to educate boaters about the importance of not transporting invasive species from one lake to another.

Though, according to member Tom Pendergast, who presented a slideshow at the Johnston forum, the “time has passed” for prevention efforts. The Ocean State’s ponds and lakes are overrun with invasive species.

Pendergast warned members that there are few options left to fight aquatic invaders.

“We need to fix lakes or the lakes will disappear,” he said. “The Rhode Island legislature needs to fund the lakes. The horse is already out of the barn.”

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