Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes and Streams, Grace College, and Jim Donahoe, Aquatic Weed Control, were guest speakers at the annual Wawasee Property Owners Association meeting Saturday.
Bosch focused on lake levels, inflowing streams and lake economic impact. He also touched on other areas including projects in the works, future projects, education, collaboration and how individuals can become involved.
Discussing the measure of inflow of water from streams into Lake Wawasee, Bosch noted four streams have been sampled every couple weeks since May 2012 figuring out what exactly is coming into Lake Wawasee from these streams. Among the information being recorded is the amount of phosphorous coming in. He reported preliminary information for 2013 is there is enough phosphorous coming in that has the potential to grow 600,000 pounds of algae or 2.5 million pounds of weeks.
He spoke of the toxin that shut down drinking water in Toledo, Ohio, recently. “That is the same toxin we have been studying in Lake Wawasee over the last four years.” Bosch noted the levels have been sporadic in Lake Wawasee, but at least eight samples have been taken during the last four years which were above safe drinking water levels. He noted the center is working on a rapid screening methods, increase capacity to test at Grace College, causes when is there a spike in algae and what’s causing the spike.
A lake economic impact study was reviewed, going over the county scale and localized to Lake Wawasee. Localizing that study, Bosch noted the study looked at the income from fishing, the amount of property taxes collected and how much of that was from single family dwellings on the lakes. Property values of homes within 500 feet of the shore line was another area in the study around the 41 largest lakes in the county. He noted the study is not yet complete with research to include boating, tourism and retail sales during the next couple years.
Locally, annual property taxes generated on Wawasee is $5.5 million, the highest of the lakes. A graph also showed the number of primary residences and secondary residences. “Secondary residences are the highest,” said Bosch. “This also helps us realize, too, that if Lake Wawasee goes bad, those secondary residence folks are going to be gone… even some of these primary residences too.”
His study additionally showed the majority of the property value around Lake Wawasee was in lake front, up to $900,000 million in property values on Lake Wawasee.
Other projects were noted by Bosch, including the denial by the DNR for funds to do a boating study on Lake Wawasee to provide recommendation on the depth of water for certain recreational sports based on boat use to protect the lake, not to deter boating.
Donahoe briefly spoke of the WPOA’s grant for a sediment plan and removal around the railroad bridge, main channel and channel coming out of The Frog. Currently the grant is in the process of being written. The plan will be submitted in the fall with knowledge of approval in 2015.
The project calls for equipment being placed on barges, scooping out sediment and taken to a location on Main Channel Marina. The current plans are to remove 2 feet of sediment to get an average depth of 3 ½ feet. However, the problem is when probed, it’s not muck or sediment, it is hard packed sand which is the natural lake bottom. The question arises, how far will dredging be allowed into the lake.
It was noted the project would take two weeks and be a fall project. The cost is estimated at $80,000 with WPOA responsible for 20 percent of the project.
Questions were raised if any communication has been held with CSX on replacement of the railroad bridge, which is deteriorating. Donahoe noted CSX wants to be involved in the dredging and fallen concrete will be removed as much as possible. But no discussion has been held on if the bridge will be replaced.
Following Bosch’s presentation, WPOA presented a $600 check to support an aquarium in Syracuse Elementary School.