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Mike McGill, a spokesman hired by White Lake, does not dispute that conditions at the lake had deteriorated around this time. There were seven- to ten-pound largemouth bass out there and that's a pretty tough fish. When you start seeing them die off in the numbers that we saw, it tells you something was really going wrong in the lake. State University, for a necropsy. Law did not make a definitive call on the cause of death, but he did not rule out the alum treatment as a contributing factor. McGill sparred with officials at DEQ over what might have killed the fish shortly after the agency halted the alum treatment on May 8, and let it continue on May McGill cited DEQ officials as saying the algae bloom was responsible.

The alum treatment has been a success. Mark Vander Borgh is a water quality biologist and environmental specialist at DEQ who has been studying issues at White Lake since The sheer quantity of chemical in addition to the bloom could not have had negligible or no effect on the actual fish kill. Vander Borgh, Wrenn and Law all acknowledge that there is no direct evidence to show a cause of death, whether it was an algae bloom, exposure to alum, or both.

It's a very complicated situation and we just don't have any direct-line evidence to show what the actual cause was. View the discussion thread. Listen Live.


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Share Tweet Email. White Lake. Fish Kill. Mussels are good for the lake because they filter out algae and particles from the water. On one certain section along the shore I noticed that there were many lily pads in big groups. I had seen them before, floating in large numbers on the surface of the water, especially in the summer. As far as I have seen, they only grow in certain shallow parts of the lake, such as the cove we were in.

As we traveled along the developed shoreline, the waters were too deep to look for plant life. However, I remembered from swimming in this area of the lake last summer that many plants tickled my legs. I also discovered a pipe leading up to a road. I noted this because it probably carried harmful runoff containing oil, gasoline, and wiper fluid from the road. I think the contents spewing from this pipe are likely to have adverse effects on the lake and could be contributing to pollution.

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Another way that humans can accelerate the death of a lake is by developing areas along the shore. When the shore is a lawn, fertilizer and chemicals can flow into the lake at a quicker rate than if they had to flow around trees, shrubs, and rocks. Also, when the runoff meets obstacles, such as tree roots and layers of leaves or sand, impurities are filtered out, resulting in less phosphorous P and nitrogen N getting into the lake.

The rest of our exploration of the developed side was uneventful. There were hardly any plants to observe. We decided to head over to the forest side. On that side, the water was shallower, so it was easy to observe what was in the water.


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  • We added a few more plants to our collection, including one with wide, pointed leaves and a thin stem. I also found a stick covered in algae. It was slimy and gross, but I decided to keep it anyway. Another interesting thing I found was lily pads. These, however, were completely different from the other ones. First of all, these were brown.

    They had thicker stems and thinner leaves that came to a point. I had never seen this kind before. I discovered later that they are pickerelweeds. After a few hours of exploring, we decided to leave. We had a large collection that I could study later. It was also getting very cold. It took us a while to pack up our stuff. We had to move the items we had collected into a bucket, which we filled with lake water.

    Once my dad had gotten the kayaks out of the water, we took a few trips to load everything into the car. Not long after, we were on the long drive home. Afterward, I did research on the plants I had found and on the history of the lake.

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    I found out many interesting facts about the plants I had collected. Although I was not able to specifically identify each plant as I had planned, I categorized them.

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    There are four different categories into which aquatic plants are sorted: algae, submerged plants, floating leaf plants, and emergent plants. They all live in the littoral zone, or the area near the shore of the lake where it is shallow. Algae plants have no roots, float in water, and range from having one cell, like phytoplankton, to many cells, such as chara. I found a lot of algae on my trip. I found one floating around by itself, and many others attached to sticks and other plants.

    Submerged plants are usually rooted to the bottom. Their leaves and stems grow entirely underwater. I found that there were a lot of these plants in the lake, but only a few species. This is true for many eutrophic lakes. The number of plants is high, but the diversity is low. Floating leaf plants are rooted to the bottom but have leaves that float on the top. Lily pads and pickerelweeds are the only examples of plants I found in this category.

    Eutrophication - Lake Scientist

    Lily pads only grow in areas where there is little wave action. The shallow cove is protected from the wind and there is less boat activity in there. This may be the reason I found more lily pads growing there. The last category is emergent plants. They are rooted to the bottom, but their leaves and stems extend out of the water. They grow along the shore where the water is shallow.

    The only emergent plant I saw was a dry, brown plant that grew in the cove. It looked dead because of its tan color, but will come "alive" in the spring. I also wanted to find out if the local residents were doing anything to help the lake. I discovered a local newsletter, the L. Lake Oscawana Civic Association News. I read many articles of interest showing the steps that are being taken by L.

    Even though L. A took action to improve the lake nearly 30 years ago, Lake Oscawana is nowhere near being fully healthy. Their major concern is milfoil, a plant that can easily dominate the entire lake. For example, they warn boaters to avoid very shallow areas of the lake with a lot of plants.

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    A motorboat's propeller cuts up milfoil, sending fragments floating to the top. When a piece of milfoil is floating on the surface, it drops seedlings that root into the bottom and grow into a multitude of milfoil. They even warn other boats such as canoes and kayaks to avoid those areas, because paddles can also uproot milfoil. They also request that if you see milfoil floating in your swimming area, you remove it from the water. Another concern is the alewife. The alewife is a fish that was introduced to the lake by fishers who used them as bait.

    The alewife's presence is a negative factor in the health of the lake. Their main food source consists of zooplankton. Zooplankton are helpful to an eutrophic lake because they eat algae. To control this problem, walleyes were introduced into the lake. They feed on other fish, primarily the alewife. Walleyes are also commonly known as pike, pickerel, and jackfish. Fishers are warned to release any walleyes they catch so that they can continue eating alewife and help the lake.

    All of these actions are helping the lake.

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    I hope that the lake will improve so that my children and grandchildren can enjoy its beauty and recreational uses, as my great-grandfather envisioned. By doing this project, I have discovered more about the lake I have known and enjoyed my entire life. I have concluded that Lake Oscawana is being affected by eutrophication.

    However, my original question still remains: is Lake Oscawana a dying lake? This project has taught me that dying is a natural process that many lakes go through. However, in some it happens faster. My real question should be: how fast is Lake Oscawana dying? Although I can't really answer that question, I can say that Lake Oscawana appears to be further along in the process.

    I know what I can do to slow down the process.