Thank you to our 2019 Lake Wallenpaupack citizen scientists: Bill Leishear, Peter Paul Olszewski, Sheryl McClosky, the Bouchard Family, Terri Marcellus, Quinn Williams, Sinclaire Ogof, Mary Ellen Bentler, and the Heck Family! These dedicated volunteers recorded lake temperature, Secchi depth (a measure of water clarity), water color, and the types of particles present weekly during June, July, and August. They also collected water samples which were analyzed at the Lacawac Environmental Laboratory for the amount of algae in the water.
One of the major findings of the 2019 program was the lake-wide algae bloom that was present during much of the summer. Water samples collected by citizen scientists showed a marked increase in the chlorophyll concentration in the lake staring in mid-July. Chlorophyll is the green pigments found in algae cells and is used as a measure of the amount of algae present. This increase in algae abundance was seen across all sampling locations.
Around the same time, citizen scientists recorded a decrease in Secchi depth. Secchi depth is an indication of water clarity. It is measured by lowering a black and white disk straight down into the water. The depth at which the disk just disappears from view is the Secchi depth. Lakes with clear water have deeper Secchi depths than those with more murky or dark water. The fact that Secchi depth declined in Wallenpaupack at the same time the chlorophyll concentration increased suggests that the algae bloom was negatively impacting water clarity.
The full 2019 Wallenpaupack Citizen-Led Water Quality Report is available on our website. The 2020 program is accepting volunteers now (more details found in this issue of Forest Notes). One of the key questions moving forward is how often does Wallenpaupack experience prolonged, lake-wide algae blooms such as the one observed in 2019?