Community faces pollution

Mounds+of+garbage+and+dangerous+polutants+lay+on+the+shores+of+Duncan+Lake+causing+harm+to+patrons+and+the+environment.

Ali Pitzl

Mounds of garbage and dangerous polutants lay on the shores of Duncan Lake causing harm to patrons and the environment.

From a distance, there’s an empty beach, it looks pretty. Upon closer inspection, in sight is a one-by-one foot pile of beer bottles, abandoned flip flops, a tire washed up on the beach, a roaring campfire, and most infuriatingly, a barren trash can. It seems as if common sense is a rare trait.

“For every person who cleans up, there’s ten who don’t. There’s only four people [to work] for four lakes.” Rusty Smith, superintendent of Duncan lakes said.

Carey Culp, who fishes as a hobby, happens to be the one in ten that compensates for the masses.

“We pick up more trash than we bring. If we don’t keep this clean, we won’t have the lake for our grandchildren. We’re going to need gas masks if we keep on destroying what’s on this earth. People party a lot and don’t think about fishing or swimming-not to mention the water sources.”

Duncan relies on all four local lakes for its water. Currently Duncan is on stage three out of four on water restrictions, meaning water is scarce.

“People are about the same, they’re all slobs, except for our campers who end up picking up more trash,” Smith said.

Recklessness has made it difficult for anybody who wants to go enjoy fishing or swimming at the local lake. There are trash cans provided at every beach and campsite.  Right now, littering is a misdemeanor with a fine of more than $200 in Oklahoma. Many don’t abide by the law.

Despite the discomfort from the human point of view, littering negatively affects wildlife.

“I’m sure [the pollution is] affecting the fish. Twenty years ago anybody could drop a line in the water and catch fish year round. We are a catch and release family because mercury levels are high in fish. I’m afraid to eat fish because I’m afraid of what might be in them,” Culp said.

Plastic or other materials can be passed through the food web until one of the higher food chain animals has such a high concentration of it in its system that it’s toxic. Earlier this month, Abby Olena of The Chicago Tribune reported such is happening in the Great Lakes, where microplastics are riddling the environment.

The environment is at risk. Among the jobs the community has to keep up with, many feel keeping the parks and lakes pristine for future generations is a priority.