People ask “why can’t the GLA eradicate swimmer’s itch on Glen Lake?” Here are a few reminders as to why:
More than one bird host (common merganser) contributes to the problem. Based on the science, we now know that Canada Geese and Mallards also contribute to the itch. It is simply not possible or legal to live-trap all three species of birds every summer in an attempt to eradicate swimmer’s itch.
We now know that migratory mergansers, geese, and mallards also contribute to the itch. So just live-trapping the “summer resident broods of mergansers” is not sufficient or effective.
We still don’t know what the long term adverse effects, if any, there might be on the Glen Lake ecosystem by a sustained live-trapping program. Removing a top predator like the common merganser year after year may produce unintended consequences that would put the balance of life in our lakes in jeopardy.
By equipping the swimmer with prevention strategies, we can now target our itch reduction techniques where they belong, namely, the swimmer.
The GLA firmly believes that it would be ineffectual and a waste of precious dollars to continue down the path of trying to control, mitigate, or eradicate swimmer’s itch on a lake-wide basis.
50 years of trial and error, plus the latest research have shown our best and most cost-effective defense against Swimmer’s Itch is prevention, not control. What can you do to prevent the itch?
Cover your skin with full body swimwear, a “rash guard” suit (SI rarely affects a person’s hands, feet, and face)
Towel off vigorously after swimming
Swim in the afternoon or early evening vs. morning
Do not swim when an onshore wind is present
Do not swim/wade in shallow water without prevention measures
Install a swim baffle (float) in your swim area to block the itch
Use a parasite skimmer to remove the itch from the surface of the lake
Use a kid friendly wading or “kiddie pool” for small kids vs. swimming near or at the shoreline
Report and Map Swimmer’s Itch
In 2020 the GLA joined a new North American Swimmer’s Itch reporting effort aimed at collecting data to aid in prediction of swimmer’s itch risk, identifying hot spots, and contributing to development of a SI alert network. 46 cases of Swimmer’s Itch were reported around Glen Lake in 2020 using the new system. In 2021, be sure to Map and Report any cases of Swimmer’s Itch using the link on our website and help us build this promising new prevention tool with other lakes across the US and Canada! Swimmer’s Itch | Glen Lake Association
The pandemic may have put our popular onboard Discovery Boat Program on hold summer 2020, but we are back in action for the 2021 Season. Morning and afternoon sessions will be offered all 5 Friday’s in July, Sign up soon, the seats will go quickly!
The Discovery Boat Program provides a hands-on educational opportunity to join watershed biologist Rob Karner and assistant biologists Laura Weisen and Joe Blondia onboard a 22-foot pontoon boat cruise of Glen Lake. The curriculum varies each week and is tailored to the interests of the participants of each session. Topics range from discovering how the lakes, wetlands, streams and surounding hillsides were formed by glaciers, to the chemistry of the water, the biology of the plants and animals, the ecology of how all the parts work together and finally, community partners and political forces at work within our watershed. The life cycle of swimmer’s itch and prevention of it, are also covered.
Each cruise can acomodate up to 8 passengers. Participation is open to anyone 8 years old and up, children must be accompanied by an adult and provide their own life preserver.
Tickets are required to participate. Regular priced tickets for non-GLA members are $25 each. As a special benefit, current GLA Members are invited to enjoy a disounted ticket price of only $15 each. Space is limited and spots fill up quickly, so purchase your tickets at the below link today!
Preserving and protecting our water resources takes multiple partners. One important partner in this watershed wide mission are our local governments. The Glen Lake-Crystal River Watershed boundary cuts across four different townships – Glen Arbor, Empire, Kasson, and Cleveland. If these four townships are true partners in the mission, they will carefully choose and then support the best tools for the job. Picking the right tools and being willing to use them is key to a successful mission.
Education is the primary tool for protecting water but what else can we do? According to the publication “Protecting Michigan’s Inland Lakes: A Toolkit for Local Governments”, Ordinances are another important tool that can help prevent and control water pollution, conserve natural beauty and open space, conserve shore cover, protect wetlands, protect fish spawning areas, protect buildings from flooding, and manage public access to the water.
One local ordinance related tool that has been in use for the past few years is mandatory time of transfer/point of sale well and septic inspection ordinances. We are fortunate to have Glen Arbor, Cleveland and now Empire and nearby Centerville townships all with TOT ordinances on the books with hope that Kasson will someday join the ranks.
Septic Inspection and regular maintennace are vital tools for protecting water quality and public health. Three of our four townships use Inspection ordinances to support this goal.
Overlay Districts represent another way that local governments can safeguard our water resources by defining a geographical area for which a zoning ordinance will apply. Most districts are made up of township boundaries, but water does not obey township or property boundaries. In this case, the district is made up of the watershed – the land surface that drains water into our lakes, streams, and wetlands.
In choosing the Overlay District zoning tool, a variety of carefully selected provisions are being proposed that offer the best protection for protecting water quality by supplementing the existing zoning. Each provision of the Overlay District is written in harmony with existing zoning and the master plan for each township and works to fill gaps in zoning between townships.
The key to the success of a watershed Overlay District is to have all four townships adopt the provisions in the proposed ordinance thereby promoting uniformity and consistency – all for the sake of clean water. We all desire clean water so adopting an Overlay District which compliments the septic ordinances make for two vital tools that will get the job done and allow for significant strides toward protecting the watershed into the future.