Kosciusko County is home to hundreds of lakes and streams. When it comes to natural bodies of water, there are always concerns about conservation.
This past Saturday, the Lake Papakeechie Sustainability Initiative sponsored a presentation at the Syracuse Community Center with Grace College’s Nathan Bosch. Bosch is a professor of environmental sciences at Grace College and the director of its Center for Lakes & Streams.
“Kosciusko County is blessed with a wonderful abundance of fresh water,” said Bosch. His presentation included introducing the public to the lifespan of a lake and how different nutrients affect the lake’s health. Bosch explained glaciers formed the natural lakes in the area. Currently, these lakes are in their mesotrophic stage, which is characterized by the biodiversity in the fish and weeds.
After this stage, the lakes will enter the eutrophic stage. This is when lakes become similar to wetlands with more weeds and a deeper green tint. Human interaction and changing the lake’s nutrients can speed up the aging process. Sewage disposal, lawn care and the disposal of lake weeds all change the structure of a lake.
“The overabundance in one link of the chain breaks the chain,” said Bosch. The links inside the lake’s food chain include nutrients, weeds and fish. When communities confront weed problems they need to predict every reaction that may happen inside the lake.
LaPSI had questions regarding the removal of Papakeechie’s weeds. In years past, they have tried to cut back the weeds and let them decompose on banks of the lake. Bosch said this process could in fact be harming the lake because dead weeds are not producing the oxygen they once did and the decomposing weeds are letting out more nutrients for the food chain.
To figure out the best procedure for a specific lake, many avenues should be explored. Bosch suggested many methods that could be taken out including aeration, physical weed removal or chemical removal. Doing small trials of these methods and watching the results will show which method is best for a particular lake. Grace College uses a three-step strategy to help keep the area’s lakes clean: Education, research and collaboration.
Educating the next generation will help ensure cleaner lakes in the future. Grace College helps create field days for children to explore the lakes in the area. They also help create fish tanks full of lake fish and weeds in local schools and the Syracuse Community Center.
Grace College uses their researching abilities to solve lake problems strategically. They identify emerging threats in the areas and have tests such as the ones for E. coli.
Collaboration allows different aspects in the community to work together for the best results. Grace College prides themselves in their research, but that’s just one aspect needed to keep the lakes clean. Bringing together different organizations, such as LaPSI, allows bigger and better things to be accomplished.
Bosch concluded the session by handing out a brochure from the Center For Lakes & Streams with 10 ways residents can keep their own lakes clean. This included tips like maintaining or creating a natural buffer for the lake, properly disposing of household and pet wastes and minimizing yard care that uses fertilizers and pesticides.