By Deb Patterson
The annual meeting of the Syracuse Lake Association Saturday morning, Aug. 6, included news of a new type of algae being found on Syracuse Lake the past week.
Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes & Streams, presented a program on current threats and strategic efforts the center is doing on Syracuse Lake, which included the starry stonewort application research and blue-green algae study. The blue-green algae study includes weekly sampling of the lake. It was during this sampling a reddish purple algae was discovered.
“That’s a new species we’ve never seen before on Syracuse Lake and it just popped up. It’s a blue-green algae, it’s a benthic algae, which means its grows from the bottom, and we saw it growing down to nine feet of water,” said Bosch.
He explained the purpose of the blue-green algae research — looking for drivers for the algae production, rapid screening techniques, why it sometimes chooses to produce toxins and sometimes not. “We’re getting really close to figuring out why it would do that. It would have huge impacts around the world.”
Bosch stated the purpose for the research on blue-green algae is proactive, to keep from what is happening in southern Florida, Ohio and other states from happening locally. He stated there are three blue-green algae sampling sites on Syracuse Lake. The blue-green algae makes up 81 percent of the algae on the lake right now.
He also addressed starry stonewort, which originally came to Lake St. Clair in Michigan in 1986. He noted this invasive species came from Europe where it is now an endangered species. It came to Lake Wawasee and Syracuse in 2011. “While it is something we don’t want to see in the lake, it is an indicator the lake is getting cleaner.”
A description of the plant and its harm to the lakes was noted. “Management is uncertain. There’s still a lot of questions on how fast we can control it.” He presented a current map, which showed 210 acres of starry stonewort on Syracuse Lake. The current research to develop means to control the spread of the plant was noted.
Bosch stated the strategy of the center is research to solve problems strategically and not emotionally, identify emerging threats, education to inspire the next generation and collaboration.
He stated on Syracuse there are weekly water samplings, which is like a routine doctor’s physical. At each sampling there are 280 measurements taken and compared to the previous week’s findings. Biweekly there are stream samplings.
Sharing some of the findings, Bosch stated the clarity of the lake is increasing, now 13 feet, making it one of the clearer lakes in the county. Of interest is the temperature readings. He stated the current surface water temperature is 83 degrees, last year it was 79 degrees. “We know the blue-green algae loves warm water. This is why we’re staying laser focused on the blue-green algae threat.”
Prior to Bosch’s presentation, Becky Fox, SLA president, reviewed activities of the organization during the past year. A presentation was given by Nate Shoemaker on the fireworks and Megan McClellan, executive director for the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails gave a brief presentation. Shoemaker stated a three-year fireworks contract will be signed with Melrose Pyrotechnics for $22,000 a year.
It was also stated five new buoys will be purchased and crews have working on removing offensive graffiti found on the railroad bridge.