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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lake Herman: Little Muddy, Little Green, But Won't Kill You

The East Dakota Water Development District has wrapped up its water monitoring for 2008. 34 of us volunteer water monitors waded and paddled out into Lake Herman, Lake Madison, Brant Lake, and other wild waters of the great Big Sioux watershed to check bacteria content and other indicators of water quality. The full 2008 report is available in PDF format at EastDakota.org.

The short form: we're clean! Well, mostly. Out of 191 lake bacteria samples, only one exceeded the EPA-recommended maximum level for "intense swimming." Alas, that one "hit" was here on Lake Herman, a reading of 250 colony-forming units per 100 mL, above the EPA max of 235 cfu/100mL, on the northwest shore just off Pelican Point Drive. Interestingly, a reading I took in August down on the south side of the lake, after tromping through fresh cow patties and having the herd itself come right over to see what I was doing, registered only 100 cfu/100mL.

Lake Herman's water clarity is not too bad. Folks around the lake will tell you we didn't see as much algae this year. By the numbers, the average depth we could see down into the water (the "Secchi depth") was 1.7 feet, not as good as at Lake Madison (2.0 feet) or Brant Lake (2.5 feet), but still just a touch above the average for 10 of the lakes in the project (1.6 feet). (I exclude Lake Cochrane from that average, since Lake Cochrane has an amazing Secchi depth of 16.79 feet—nowhere to hide for those little fishies!)

So Lake Herman may taste a little gritty, but it won't make you too sick. Rather like Lake Herman's busiest blog... ;-)

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