SYRACUSE — A number of topics were covered Saturday morning, Aug. 3, during the annual Syracuse Lake Association breakfast meeting. The two main topics dealt with the health of the lake and background and information on the formation of Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy.
Dr. Nate Bosch, director of Lilly Lakes & Streams at Grace College, highlighted a few of the research areas during his presentation – lake clarity, algae, boating and zebra mussels.
Bosch noted Syracuse Lake is clearer than last year with visibility recorded at 12 feet on Syracuse and 6 feet on Wawasee the past week. “The clarity has been consistently increasing over the last three weeks,” he stated. This, he noted , could be due to the cooler temperatures earlier in the season resulting in less boat traffic and colder water temperatures stunting algae growth. It was noted the stream sampling is showing a majority of nutrients are being brought into Wawasee through the four streams, but being filtered before reaching Syracuse. “Wawasee is a filter in a sense for the water as well as Mudd Lake and the wetland areas before it comes into Syracuse Lake,” Bosch noted.
An update on blue-green algae levels was presented. Bosch noted Syracuse has tested on average during the past several weeks at 0.2 ppb with Wawasee at 1.4. “That is well below the threshold,” Bosch stated.
Regarding the boat study, Bosch noted the study resulted in any type of boat operation in 10 feet of water or above did not stir up the sediment in the lake.
Zebra mussels, the newest study, is underway, with three samplers placed under piers in the lake. The samplers will be checked monthly for several years to determine the population in the lake. The mussels presence has made a shift in the algae community structure, where 80 to 90 percent of the algae in the lakes is the blue-green algae with the potential for toxin production.
His presentation also included the center’s mission, education programs and collaborative projects.
John Earnest presented a follow up from last year’s meeting regarding the Syracuse Water Control Device and the future plans. Earnest gave a history not only of the current structure, but how a committee was formed and what it has done in the last 11 months.
The presentation included notation of the study by Lawson Fisher Associates on the needed repairs and estimated costs. He also referenced the channel dike which was breached in 2007. “It is a problem that we don’t talk about or know about,” Earnest said.
He referenced a hiccup in the project when the town felt it didn’t own the dam, until the 1922 deed was located. “We lost six months out there, but we got the project started again,” he said noting all repairs will be done at once. Earnest noted fundraising began by the group, overseen by Doug Schrock, and a $600,000 budget established for dam and dike repairs. He reviewed the funding partners for the project – $250,000 by the town, $100,000 by the county and $250,000 from property owners.
“What if it happens again?” Earnest stated, noting it is unknown what a future board may decide. This resulted in the desire to create the Turkey Creek Dam and Dike Conservancy. Earnest explained the conservancy, who the freeholders would be, the number of signatures needed to request a conservancy, how a board would initially be established and how the money raised would be used. He also pointed out the rate of tax would commensurate with the gross assessed value of a person’s property.
“Eventually the conservancy will buy the dam to get the town off the hook,” he stated.
Two new lake patrol officers were recognized and received their badges by Sheriff Kyle Dukes. Matt Goodnight and Thomas Malott were presented their official sheriff’s badges.
Dukes noted the job of a lake patrol officer is a tough job. “Our number one priority is to make sure everybody is safe. I welcome them to the team, and to the family.” He encouraged the residents to contact the lake patrol if they see or hear something, and if interested in joining the patrol to contact Jim Tranter, who has overseen the group for a number of years.
Dukes also took the opportunity to let the residents know since March 1, the drug task force, NET 43, has made 89 arrests, served 17 search warrants and he’s activated the SWAT team 12 times. “Heroin and meth. That’s what my men are dealing with,” he stated. Dukes stated he is taking a proactive stance to shut drugs down in the county and move it to the next county. “We’re not going to put up with it here in Kosciusko County.”
Additionally, he spoke about Camp Hero which begins Tuesday, Aug. 6, and how after visiting Huntington County and seeing a similar program, wanted to bring it here. He noted every law enforcement agency, every fire and EMS department will be participating. “This is hands on … building those relationships, earning their trust.”
Before the meeting closed several matters were noted including the issue of buoys being placed beyond 200 feet from the shoreline, and concern about the concrete continually falling from the railroad bridge.