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Monday, September 29, 2008

Lake Herman: Less Green, Low Bacteria!

"Less green, low bacteria!"—o.k., it doesn't make for the best slogan for promotional brochures for Lake Herman. But the latest update on the 2008 water monitoring project (PDF alert!), as well as visual and olfactory observations by my neighbors and me, points to better water quality on Lake Herman this year.

Charlie Stoneback, Fay Dimick, and I have been taking water samples on Lake Herman this year. So far, we've gotten nothing like some of the "hot" E. coli readings that we got in spring 2007. The highest E. coli reading we've obtained this year was 133 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters in June up at the mouth of the golf course creek on the north end of Lake Herman. No other sample site or date on Herman has come close, and half the time, we've found zero E. coli. The EPA pegs 235 cfu/100ml as the maximum allowable E. coli concentration for designated swimming beaches.

Our water clarity, as measured by "Secchi depth," hasn't been that great, averaging around 2 feet most of the season, but dropping to 0.7 feet in August. I came out of the lake with a lot of green on my waders in August. Still, the mild summer and lots of fresh rain input in June seemed to keep the really bad algae blooms down. The lake had its stinky spots, but rarely did we see the extensive walk-on-water fluourescent scum layers that often come with the dog days of summer.

We'll be out for another round of sampling in October. If you'd like to get involved, the East Dakota Water Development District has funding to support water monitoring next year, too, so give 'em a call, get your sample bags and Secchi disk, and come help do science next spring!

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