Our view: Final Bay Swim highlights need for vigilance

Spectators watch from Vista 3 at Presque Isle State Park as some of the 300 swimmers begin a 1-mile swim June 17 from Presque Isle State Park across Presque Isle Bay to the Erie Yacht Club during the 10th and final Bay Swim to benefit the Presque Isle Partnership.
[CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE/ERIE TIMES-NEWS] Swimmers who crossed Presque Isle Bay in the 10th and final Bay Swim on Saturday ended a journey so much longer than the 1-mile stretch from Parking Vista #3 to the Erie Yacht Club.
Decades ago, such an event would have been unthinkable.
The bay served as a sewer and not just for human waste that flowed in by the millions of gallons.
Industry and residents alike dumped poisonous chemicals as well.
In a 2008 interview, Robert Wellington, a retired water-pollution control specialist with the Erie County Department of Health memorably recalled the hues of paint he had encountered in bay waters — green, yellow, white — because people poured leftover paint into storm sewers.
Bay-caught bullhead catfish bulging with tumors manifested the extent of the toxicity.
They, and anyone else who treasures clean water in the bay and Lake Erie, must not.
It would cut Environmental Protection Agency funding and eliminate altogether efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which brings about $200,000 a year to Erie County to monitor Lake Erie water quality and safety.
There is more work to do and Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay have simply come too far to go back to bad old days.

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