The Andersons property has been in the family for over 100 years and is in a wooded, undeveloped portion of the lake. The property consists of private wooded trails along a ridge, near wetlands and past an artesian spring, as well as near a swell and a few streams. However, a severe thunderstorm cut the evening short.
Dr. Nate Bosch, assistant professor of environmental biology at Grace College and director of the Kosciusko Lakes and Stream water quality project, having on occasion to speak above the thunder, told about the program, which began in 2007.
Bosch recognized those present who have been donors of the project since the initial seed grant was received from the Kosciusko Community Foundation. “It’s been fun for me to see and work with you guys in the community,” he stated noting he would present information on three areas — education, collaboration and research.
Education is one area Bosch stated he is “most excited about.” He noted more Grace College students are becoming involved in the environmental science course with three environmental majors on campus and working with KLAS, an outreach program for research and education in the community. “We have four working now as interns. It’s great to see them learn and I almost feel like
I’m reproducing myself in these young students who are then able to hopefully go off and be professionals in this field in the future.”
Bosch state there are six additional students coming on in the fall allowing himself and Anna Burke, program manager, to get additional work done.
He reported thousands of students have been impacted through education over the past five years. This contact has been by such means as bringing them to Lake Wawasee for water sampling, putting on chest waders and getting into a river, having an aquarium in the classroom, bringing kids to the lake shore for a field day or doing an art contest.
“All these are different ways to impact students. “We’re trying to impact and raise up in a grass roots sort of way the next generation of people here that live in Kosciusko County and so it’s a big task but we’re making great strides in it already and having a lot of fun doing that.”
Bosh reported working with the DNR on a project, working on another project in the Barbee Lake Chain and Chapman Lakes area and KLAS continues to work with the National Science Foundation doing research on Lake Erie. “Lake Erie believe it or not has a lot of things in common with some of our lakes here in northern Indiana. We are learning something about Lake Erie that helps with our lakes here.”
Bosch reported the group is working with the K21 Health Foundation regarding the blue-green algae toxin. That’s really an important health threat that we have on our lake that we’re trying to get a handle on so we can protect people from that.”
He noted the group is working with the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation on different projects with talk of doing some stream sampling to see what comes through the streams and into the lake. “We would be sampling four major streams coming into Wawasee. My vision for that is we need to
understand what’s coming in to the lake … what the sources of those pollutants are … which stream they come through and how much … can help them fix those problems and improve Wawasee.”
Bosch noted this is an important study and to move forward funding will need to be obtained as it would be a year long project.
The final area Bosch addressed was research. He reported the drought may have affected the blue-green algae on the lake this year. “The lack of rain has less material flowing onto the lake,” he noted allowing less material to cause the blue-green algae and toxin product. “So there is a silver lining
to the drought.”
He noted in 2009 the blue-green algae toxin was at 63 parts per billion. The world health organization and IDEM recommends reduction of recreational contact with water for anything over 4 ppb. “This is was one of the things that pushed us going into this study.”
The following year there were no high levels with 2011 it rising up to 6 ppb, but in 2012 getting up
to only about 1 before going down to zero.
He also noted the study at Barbee Lake chains and Chapman lake on the affect of public sewers to see if public sewers make a difference in water quality or not. “Chapman Lake is our control lake,” stated Bosch noting there is no plans of putting public sewers at Chapman.
The group is also doing an economic impact study. Bosch noted while many present understood the economic value of the lake, there are individuals and groups who do not. “When I go talk to a lot of service organizations and other groups, they don’t get the value of the lake. They may not be living
on the lake, they didn’t grow up on the lake, so one of the ways we can get them involved (is through the economic value).
Noting he has already looked at sports fishing which brings in $28 million a year to the community, county, he is also looking at property taxes. “So I’ve been working with the property tax data for Kosciusko County … $8.3 million goes into Kosciusko County from property taxes just around Lake
Wawasee,” Bosch stated noting the total county tax revenue is $60 million.
“So 14 percent of the total tax revenue comes from just around Lake Wawasee. So the county is enjoying lots of income because of the lakes here. I’m adding all lakes, 25 acres or more,” he noted noting he is expecting the majority of the residential property taxes come from lake taxes. He also is
going to look into property values in relation to water quality. “If (water quality) gets worse does it impact property value for the worse? Those are just a few of the updates.”
President Ron Manahan was able to get a few words in before the brunt of the late afternoon storm hit and everyone took cover inside the Anderson home. He expressed appreciation for the initiative for the KLAS project. “It’s a wonderful thing. One of the things I like what Nate does. It is taking theory about the environment and putting it into practice. If we can’t make that connection it is really challenging to do … need to be shepherds and active stewards …”
Manahan also expressed appreciation for the support on the projects as well as other projects on the campus that individuals have assisted on in some form.