By Deb Patterson
SYRACUSE — A stormy, rainy morning may have helped the 2021 Annual Syracuse Lake Association Breakfast Meeting to go down in the books as the largest group of residents ever attending. The annual event, held Saturday morning at Syracuse Community Center had a record 120 reservations.
Dr. Nate Bosch, director of Lilly Lakes & Streams at Grace College and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer District 1 Lt. John Karris, were keynote speakers for the meeting.
Bosch’s presentation not only included a slide presentation but an opportunity for those in attendance to see under a microscope green algae and three different types of blue green algae — anabaena, athanoscapsa and micocystin.
Bosch went over the center’s mission strategy, education, collaboration and applied research.
Focusing his presentation on research, Bosch noted samples from Syracuse and Wawasee lakes are taken regularly. He noted this year the lake has been cooler than last year, reading 79 degrees but the water clarity is visibly less. The opposite of what is expected. “We are trying to figure it out,” Bosch stated. The question is being raised “Why is there more algae?” and the researchers for the center are looking to see if there are more nutrients coming into the lake, causing the cloudiness.
Bosch touched on the year-round research through the use of five stream sensors and the information the sensors provide. He noted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using the data for river flooding modeling and the DNR is looking at the lake levels. The stream sensors provide information as water temperature, depth, velocity and flow. Real-time data from the sensors are available on the center’s website.
Blue-green algae toxins was explained including the Indiana Department of Environmental Management guidelines for danger levels for animals and humans. He noted only three times has Syracuse lake been at the danger to animal levels but has since gone below that threshold. “It has not gotten near the people threshold,” Bosch stated. He stated the algae in Syracuse is angry and the center is researching why. He also noted weekly testing results on blue-green algae toxin levels are available on the center’s site.
He stated zebra mussels may be the cause of the high blue-green algae toxin levels. The zebra mussels eat certain types of algae, blue-green algae not being on their menu. He noted the zebra mussels eat certain types of algae, but spit out the blue-green algae. There is a theory that zebra mussels could be shifting the conditions in the lake, eating all the good algae leaving the bad algae behind. Later, in his presentation, he noted the only way to rid the lake of zebra mussels is by chlorination of the lake (which would also kill everything in the lake) or introducing red-ear sunfish.
It was also noted the center is working with the EPA on several studies – blue-green algae and the decline of bald eagles and predicting property value based on a lake’s water quality.
Highlighting Homeowners Rights
Karris stressed the role of the conservation officers is to partner with those in the community to make the lake safer and more enjoyable.
He touched on the proper pier placement, riparian rights, boating laws and while they have to enforce fishing laws, the officers don’t make the laws. He also spoke on the availability to offer boater safety courses and boater education.
Karris was accompanied to the meeting by Conservation Officers Nathan Hooley and Dustin Whitehead.
During the business part of the meeting, John Earnest, chairman, introduced the board members and announced a Syracuse Lake Photo competition for the cover of next years property owner book. Katie Conrad is spearheading the contest.
Special recognition was given to Scot McDowell and Main Channel Marina for sponsoring the breakfast catered by Black Tie Catering. Special guests were Mickey Scott, Turkey Creek Township Fire Chief; lake patrol members and Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes.