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Rhythm And Booms Needs More Thought Given To Protecting Lake Monona

August 29, 2013

I think it safe to say that the vast majority of people enjoy a truly glorious fireworks display.  There is a thrill to hearing the loud bursts and waiting for the colorful drama to unfold in the sky.  The kid in all of us comes alive at such moments.  So readers might assume when the news was announced earlier this year that Rhythm & Booms will be moving to Lake Monona in 2014 I would be welcoming the event coming so close to where we live.

But I am not thrilled.  In fact, I am rather concerned about the news as no one can be clear about the impact that this event will have on Lake Monona.


I know that everyone talks a great deal about how the lakes that surround this city are natural treasures, and how we need to work overtime to make sure they are protected from environmental harm.  I could not agree more!  So it baffles me how  dumping fireworks debris into the lake is a move that the city should be making plans for.

There is no doubt that tens of thousands will show up for the show that will allow for the closing of John Nolen.  The fireworks will be staged from barges on Lake Monona, and there will be wild cheers and applause.  It will be an impressive sight.

What will not be pondered that night as everyone looks up into the night sky is how perchlorate, the main chemical found in firework rockets, will break down into the lake.    There will be little thought given to the debris that will wash up  the shorelines, and how that all will be collected.  What impact will be made to the waters that Monona drains into?

My alderperson, Marsha Rummel, asked the $100,000 question recently that was printed in a local paper.

“Can you throw tons of pollutants into the lake without anybody having to OK it?’

There seems to be a fast-track approach to the idea of this firework show, but I think Lake Monona needs a stronger advocate to speak in its behalf.  How much damage to the lake needs to pile up as evidence before it dawns on those who make decisions that more oversight is required to protect our treasures that surround Madison?  Once that happens everyone will then ask ‘How was this ever allowed to happen in the first place?’

I love to have as much fun with loud bangs and splashes of color as anyone on the Fourth of July.  That is the kid in me.  (May he forever live.)

But there comes a time when we have to act like adults.  Protecting the long-term interests of Lake Monona is far more important than one night of fun as we are dazzled with fireworks.

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