(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh in a series continuing to look at proposed sewers around Tippecanoe Lakes.)
LEESBURG — Preserving the water quality of Tippecanoe Lake is the goal of every user of the lake. It is with this thought process many feel installing a sewer system will help add to that preservation. There is also a belief there are no problems with current septic systems.
Kosciusko County Health Department conducted an E.coli test of 53 sites around Oswego, James and Tippecanoe lakes. This testing was done after the office began receiving a lot of phone calls asking about the bacteria level of the lake. Bob Weaver, administrator and chief scientist for the Kosciusko County Health Department, felt a need to be responsive to those questions. Data on file was a couple years old.
Weaver and Neal Brown, county environmentalist, chose Sept. 5, the day after one of the busiest weekends of the year on the lake, to test for E.coli. All location sites tested were noted on a map. The highest E.coli reading was 6.3, with the lowest reading at less than 1. The average of all tests was 1.7. Weaver explained readings of less than 235 per 100 milliliter of water is safe.
“I was surprised. I didn’t think we would get high numbers, we never have.” Weaver said, “I was surprised they were that low.”
But there is a threat to Tippecanoe Lake. Dr. Nate Bosch, director of Lilly Center For Lakes & Streams, stated according to ongoing research, the top current threat to Tippecanoe lakes is excessive nutrients.
“These nutrients come from several sources, including septic systems around the lake. What is not clear at this point is what portion of those excess nutrients is due to the septic systems versus other sources such as fertilizer runoff from residential and agricultural areas, soil erosion from construction sites and farm fields, animal waste from wildlife and livestock or decaying plant materials within the lakes themselves,” said Bosch. Studies have indicated phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the lake have been consistently above the Environmental Protection Agency recommended guidelines.
Bosch additionally stated the data collected by the center on water clarity, nutrients and oxygen are all potentially related to septic takes around the lakes, just as the data is likely related to other factors as well.
“Water clarity in the Tippecanoe lakes depends on algae and sediments in the water. Algae populations can increase in the water from excess nutrients and warm, calm conditions which would reduce water clarity,” said Bosch.
“Zebra mussels eat certain types of algae which lowers the populations of these algae and can increase water clarity. Soil erosion from construction sites, agricultural fields, and along stream banks brings sediments into lakes through inflowing streams which reduce water clarity. Sediments can be stirred up from the bottom of lakes through boating activities which can also reduce water clarity,” said Bosch.
Results of those studies, can be found online at: http://lakes.grace.edu/files/uploads/Your%20Lake%20Your%20Story/CFLS_Lake-Brochures-2017_Tippecanoe_EO.pdf
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- Is There Really A Septic Problem At Tippy Lake?
- Auditor’s Office Working To Verify Petition Signatures
- Health Department Finds Solutions To Septic Issues
- Friends Of Tippy Has Three Different Camps On Sewer Issue