Settling For The Best
July 13, 2021
While the increased plant growth covered on the front page is a newer issue, Water Quality at Clear Lake has been on our minds for years.
In an effort organized and led by volunteer members of the Water Quality Committee, we’ve collected data for over a decade on the county-regulated ditches flowing into Clear Lake and on the lake itself. Results indicate a decrease in water clarity shown in the Clear Lake Secchi depth readings and an increase in nutrient levels. In total, 12 feet of sight depth has been lost over 25 years at an average of ~ 6 inches per year.
To begin reversing this trajectory, we launched the Cyrus Brouse Clean Stream Project in 2019 to install a two-stage ditch on the west bank of the Cyrus Brouse ditch at our Settlers Wetland Nature Preserve. You likely saw the big equipment south of 120 this spring and summer! The two-stage ditch creates a “bench” to allow water flow during heavy rain events to slow down and spread out, giving suspended nutrients like phosphorous or nitrogen a chance to settle out. During large rain events, the two-stage ditch will overflow into a constructed wetland, allowing suspended solids to settle out and encouraging the up-take of nutrients by water-loving plants.
This best management practice (BMP) is one of many Conservancy projects, and part of a combined community effort, that will be necessary to improve the water clarity in Clear Lake.
We appreciate the support of the project given by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Lake & River Enhancement Program, the Danny & Bill Fund held at the Steuben County Community Foundation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NiSource Foundation and NIPSCO, and an anonymous donor.
Settlers Wetland Nature Preserve is closed to the public. However, if you would like to see the completed project, please contact our office. We are happy to provide tours!