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Lake Monroe Sailing Association Designated 'Clean Marina' By The State

Presentation of Clean Marina flag to the Lake Monroe Sailing Association by Indiana Department of Environmental Management assistant commissioner Julia Wickard.

Indiana Department of Environment Management assistant commissioner Julia Wickard, right, presents a plaque and a flag to Lake Monroe Sailing Association commodore Jeff Watson Thursday. (Mitch Legan/WTIU)

The Lake Monroe Sailing Association’s marina has set the bar for inland lakes in Indiana.

The association was designated a “Clean Marina” by the state’s Department of Environmental Management Thursday, becoming the first inland lake to be certified by Indiana’s Clean Marina program.

Association general manager Walter Johnson says the process took nearly a year and included creating an area on the property away from the lake where members could do maintenance on their boats without putting pollutants into the lake.

“I just think as an organization, we should be the best corporate citizens we can be. And part of that includes being environmentally sensitive,” Johnson said.

The association also has made spill kits available for boaters who have issues on the water and has added a new pump-out station nearby so boaters can safely discharge water, among its upgrades.

“We created standardized work areas, we increased our recycling program, we increased our training, we did a lot of signage, just a whole series of little things that add up to one big thing,” Johnson said.

The Clean Marina Program is designed to reduce the environmental impact from pollutants associated with marinas and boats. It provides technical assistance and guidance to marinas and recreational boaters.

Marinas must complete a checklist of 100 items to qualify for the program, which is voluntary. The Lake Monroe Sailing Association scored 96% on its application. Indiana Department of Environmental Management assistant commissioner Julia Wickard said the average score was 80%.

“I think it takes everyone to do their part,” Wickard said. “And that’s the beauty of this program and other programs that are environmentally, or watershed based, that if each one and each entity does their part, then the great whole accomplishes more.”

Friends of the Lake Monroe founder Sherry Mitchell-Bruker is impressed the association took the step to become a Clean Marina.

“The smaller marinas, the big marinas, the boaters, the activities outside and the watershed. All of this adds up to the impacts of the lake,” she said. “And we need this lake to be clean, not only for the present, but for future generations.”

Mitchell-Bruker said the Friends of Lake Monroe is in the process of putting together a watershed plan for the lake, thanks to a grant from IDEM. That includes taking water samples from different places on the lake in an effort to gather scientific date to guide the plan.

Eliminating pollutants from the lake, which provides drinking water for Bloomington, is the ultimate goal.

“There’s all sorts of different pollutants that enter the water from activities like cleaning your boat and fueling,” Mitchell-Bruker said. “And some of those pollutants get into the drinking water. We have a good drinking water process that cleans this up, but the more pollutants we add, the more expensive it gets.

“And we want the water to be safe for swimmers and people who recreate.”

The Lake Monroe Sailing Association is just the sixth marina in the state to be designated clean by the program, which began in 2014.

It is one of three marinas at Lake Monroe, and Johnson is hoping the other two marinas follow suit.

“I would challenge other clubs to do it because it’s not too hard,” Johnson said. “It just takes time and effort.”

The other five marinas in the Clean Marina Program are along Lake Michigan.

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