Lake Study in Kosciusko County Continues
Kosciusko Lakes and Streams (KLAS) is preparing for its second year of sampling Kosciusko County lakes for human health concerns associated with blue-green algae toxins and E. coli. KLAS, in partnership with the Kosciusko Health Department, began testing the lakes for these health concerns in the summer and fall of 2010 after receiving a grant from the K21 Health Foundation.
Last year, the blue-green algae toxin concentrations measured in the 56 lake sites were well below the World Health Organization’s health risk threshold of 10 ppb, except for Muskellunge Lake in the southern portion of Kosciusko County, which measured 11.9 ppb in August. Algae toxin levels in Kosciusko Lakes during 2009 were more than 50 times higher than in 2010, which indicates a change in the lakes between 2009-2010. KLAS Director Nate Bosch, said “I am interested to see what blue-green algae toxin concentrations we will find in 2011 to allow helpful conclusions and recommendations for further actions.”
E. coli levels sampled were all below the human health risk threshold of 235 cells per 100 mL, except for Pike Lake, measured in September, when E. coli levels were at 365 cells per 100 mL. E. coli levels were on average higher at near-shore sampling locations compared to open lake sampling sites indicating near-shore E. coli sources such as human or animal waste. Bosch said, “Overall, I was happy to see relatively low E. coli levels across the lakes of our county during our sampling in 2010, but E. coli levels are known to be variable based on weather characteristics, waterfowl patterns, and specific sampling locations so further work this summer is important.”
Anna Burke, KLAS Program Manager, is working on an improved system to notify the local public about water-related concerns such as high E. coli levels. Burke is working with Lake City Radio to develop a text messaging system and the web-based We Are Closed school closure system for website and email alerts for public notification. The Kosciusko Health Department has endorsed this plan as well to help increase the effectiveness of their own current public notification efforts.
More details on this research project is available on the KLAS website (water.grace.edu). KLAS will also be talking about blue-green algae toxins at their educational booth at the Northern Indiana Lakes Festival at Center Lake Park on June 25 from 11-4 PM. More information on the festival is available at www.lakesfestival.org. According to Burke, “Another great way to stay informed about what we are doing with our local water resources is to subscribe to our monthly ‘News from the Lakes’ e-newsletter that currently goes out to over 1,000 local residents.” If you are interested, you can sign up for the newsletter through the KLAS website or by contacting Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org or (574)372-5100 x6446.