Open Letter on Condition of the Lake August 2015

An open letter about the condition of the lake | Matthew Verdirame – Lake and Dam Chairman

As we look at the lake this month everyone is concerned with the vast amount of algae in the lake at this time.  As Lake and Dam chairman I can assure you that I am as concerned as you all are.  The lake has had horrifying amounts of algae blooming up at the end of August.

You may be aware that this year we changed from treating the lake with copper sulfides to kill the algae to biological treatments with beneficial bacteria.   We were concerned about the damage the chemical treatments did to the environment of the lake.

Copper Sulfate would quickly knock down the algae and within a day or two the algae would disappear, but it would soon be back the next week or so depending on conditions.  Biological treatment works differently, it is supposed to work slowly over an extended time frame.  So when it is applied it will take about a week to knock down the algae, and then continue to control the algae for a few weeks.  It will do this without any harm to the lake environment.
The company that we contracted to do this biological treatment (AquaLink) has been treating the lake since spring with these beneficial bacteria and for most of the summer the lake was pretty good, but not great.  However with the severe hot and humid conditions that we have been having over the last few weeks the algae has been winning the battle over the bacteria.   Aqua Link has increased the dosage rate over the season and tried spot treating the lakes in the coves which have shown the highest concentrations of algae.  They applied the last contracted treatment on Friday, August 21 primarily in the coves.  Today, which is Monday, August 24 it has not shown improvement. Hopefully the next few days might show improvement.

Talking with AquaLink we have discussed some options such as additional treatments, which would cost more, or treatment with the copper sulfate.  However, because of the danger of a complete breakdown of the algae with copper sulfate, which could lead to a widespread fish kill we do not think we will do that.  Addition treatments with biologicals may be our best option.  We are in contract for Lake Savers of Michigan to install the aeration system and are hoping to have the system installed and up and running in September.  This aeration should help the biological treatments control the algae.

The question that needs to be answered is whether the algae in the lake is harmful.  Let me assure you that we have been testing the lake on a regular schedule.  Here are the latest test results by Bill Kirkpatrick of Aquatic Environment Consultants, Inc: “An e-coli sample was collected on 8-12-15 and the results came back <1.0 col/ml which is very good. I collected a water sample on 8-18-15 and shipped it to Clemson University the same day. This sample will be analyzed for microcystin-LR, algal species, and cell density of target algae. I will let you know the results as soon as they become available.

Based on my observations of the cove areas, I would recommend that there is no water contact in those areas with heavy scum on the surface. Based on the result from Clemson, I will be better able to advise on water contact in the open water.   Early in the season there was a heavy bloom of Aphanizomenon that eventually died under its own weight as blooms often do. There is now a bloom on the lake that is heavier than the bloom in the early part of the summer. This bloom will die at some point. I am very concerned that this bloom will crash in the next few weeks at a time when Lake Heritage has experienced low dissolved oxygen levels. I am very concerned that there could be a significant fish kill associated with the crashing algae bloom.

That is the latest we have on the lake condition.  I am very upset over the condition of the lake and I have been losing sleep over what we should do, but let me assure you that we are doing everything we can to try to get this lake in order and if we do find out about any harmful substances in the lake we will get that information on the website, in emails, and at the front gate as soon as we are able.  I thank you for your concern.