18 July 2013: Alarming decline of lake water quality a serious concern

anabena03I assume others have noticed how murky the lake water has become. Over the past couple of weeks the water clarity has decreased significantly. No doubt this is due to the hot weather we’ve been getting coupled with a lack of rain and drastically low water levels. With the lake now down 50″ below the top of the dam, more than 875 million gallons of water or nearly 1/2 of all the water in the lake has been drained off. This has allowed the water to warm up significantly and has exposed soft bottom sediments to the effects of wave action, stirring them up and releasing phosphorous (think plant food) that has been until now safely bound up in the mud. Paul Kelley’s thoughtless water level management is poisoning the lake.

I put a sample of lake water under my microscope this morning to see if I could see what might be causing the cloudy appearance. I found a good number cyanobacteria of the genus Anabena which is the blue-green algae responsible for algal blooms. At left is a photograph I took last August of Anabena blue-green algae from the lake. There’s always a little Anabena in the lake, but I think to see this much this early in the season is not a good sign. Given sufficient nutrients, growth of this bacteria can explode. It bears watching.

I met with our resident water quality expert David Hodsdon this morning to discuss this and other things and he agreed that the water clarity has deteriorated. He and Jack Holland will be going out tomorrow morning to perform their regular water quality monitoring which includes secchi disk (clarity/transparency), dissolved oxygen, and temperature measurements. This data gets posted on the Clary Lake Water Monitoring Data page. Look for an update to this post sometime tomorrow.