SYRACUSE — Members of the Syracuse Lake Association, Wawasee Property Owners Association, Wawasee Conservancy Association and the Lilly Center For Lakes & Streams came together yesterday, Saturday June 24, to discuss the healthy of two major lakes in Kosciusko County.
Michael and Rebecca Kubaki opened their home to host a fundraising event for the Lilly Center For Lakes & Streams, where Dr. Nate Bosch, the director of the center, discussed the changes seen in Syracuse Lake and Lake Wawasee as well as what could be done to improve them.
“We are here to make our lakes and streams clean, healthy, safe and beautiful,” Bosch said.
He noted that the lakes impact the health of the ecosystem, the economy and the residents in these areas.
“The data shows some challenges, but they also show a glimmer of hope as well,” Bosch said in reference to the research printed in the “Your Lake, Your Story” booklet.
Bosch addressed past concerns like the drought in 2012, starry stonewort, chemical spills and blue-green algae. He also stated that these lakes, along with others, bring in $313 million to Kosciusko County a year, but that could change based on the quality of the lakes.
Bosch also addressed current issues like recent fish kills. He says that white bass have seen the biggest impact.
“Interestingly enough, white bass is not a native fish that should be in our lakes … It’s always sad to see fish that are in harm, but that fish in particular is not as high as significant as some of our native species,” Bosch said.
The Lilly Center has some theories as to why this fish kill occurred including a wet spring, spawning stress indicators, or some sort disease.
The temperature of the lakes is about two degrees cooler than this time last year. Syracuse Lake’s visibility went from 8 feet to 7 feet. Lake Wawasee went from 5 feet to 9 feet.
The oxygen level for Syracuse was 20 feet, but Bosch stated that the water doesn’t get very cold until about 25 feet, which means that cold water fish cannot survive there. For Wawasee, the oxygen level was 36 feet and the water gets cold at 30 feet, but there is reason to believe Wawasee’s oxygen level will match that of Syracuse Lake by the end of the summer.
Bosch also gave lake front property owners some tips on how they can help keep the lakes healthy including using phosphorus free fertilizers for lawns, planting grass and other plants near the banks to help filter any run off and avoid disposing of waste like grass clippings in the lakes.
“With all that we’ve accomplished together during these last ten years, I’m so excited to see what we can do together with these two lakes and the next ten years,” Bosch said in closing.