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Water Quality Update – August 2016

– Brenda Fekete, MLRC Lake Science Manager

As we look at the end of August and we all scurry around to pack in as much of summer as we can, the WQI team continues to sample each of our seven lakes on a weekly basis.  The warm summer temperatures have made sampling so enjoyable! It has been great working with so many new and veteran volunteers this season. I cannot thank you enough for all of your help!

The WQI crew has been collecting secchi measurements and insitu water profiles for temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen since the last week of April, an average of ten visits to each of the ten DEP sampling sites to date. We have also collected horizontal grab water samples and on a biweekly schedule. These water samples are analyzed for total phosphorus and total nitrogen (using Lachat and ICP instrumentation) and metal ions, including iron and aluminum, (using ICP instrumentation) at Colby College. A monthly surface water sample is analyzed for size, number and identification of phytoplankton using the FlowCAM housed at the MLRC. The team will continue to sample until the lakes turnover near the end of October.

Despite very warm temperatures and lack of rainfall, secchi readings and temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles appear to be mimicking last year… saved by the couple of cooler weeks in June! The deep holes on Great Pond, Long Pond and Messalonskee are presently showing a dissolved oxygen level of 15 -20%. Salmon Pond and the shallower end of Messalonskee have been anoxic for several weeks. North Pond and McGrath Pond continue to mix and stay oxygenated. East Pond has recently bloomed.

Did you see something interesting floating in the stream near the MLRC in July? Our team deployed a number of different mesocosms into the stream near the MLRC to study the effect of adding different concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus to water taken from Great Pond, Long Pond, East Pond and Salmon and McGrath Ponds. After a week, the bags were removed and the water was analyzed using the FlowCam, ICP and a fluorometer to measure Chloropyll a. Looking at how algae communities respond to different nutrient concentrations can provide helpful information for controlling algae growth and aid in the development of effective management strategies.

Colby Student, Nathan Harris works with Sam Jackson to deploy the mesocosms into the stream near the MLRC. Although not pictured, Addy Seeman played a major role in the planning, building and deployment of the mesocosms.

The WQI team is also assisting the BLA Gloeotrichia Observation Project (managed by Logan Parker) by monitoring and recording Gloeo in all of the seven lakes. The presence of Gloeotrichia in Great and Long Pond appears to be much like that seen in 2015. Denise Bruesewitz and her students continue to collect samples from Great and Long Pond for Gloeotrichia analysis.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 2.22.16 PMThe presence of Metaphyton, however, has increased in our lakes. Metaphyton is a term applied to free floating filamentous algae found in shallow water that has the appearance of “clouds of cotton candy”. In can also be found attached to rocks and limbs. In response to the increase in Metaphyton, we are asking that geotagged photos, (photos taken by an iPhone or Android with location on) be sent to me or Logan. The online mapping will help us identify affected areas and design further studies. If you do not have a smartphone, please come and see us in the MLRC gallery. Your help is greatly appreciated.

At the 2016 BLA Annual Meeting on July 31st, the Belgrade Lakes Association hosted the esteemed limnologist, Dr. Ken Wagner (funded by the BLA and the BRCA) to talk about the analysis of the data collected by our 2015 WQI team and his recommendations for the remedial action for Great and Long Pond. Colby College professor, Dr. Whitney King also presented an update on this year’s findings to date.

In response to further discussion about Dr. Wagner’s concerns for Great Pond, fifty plus sediment samples from the calculated anoxic area on Great Pond are currently being collected. These samples will be analyzed for iron, aluminum and phosphorus content to help with lake remediation studies. Sediment samples will be collected from all seven lakes in the fall. Experiments to extend our study of Gloeotrichia and Metaphyton in both lakes are being designed for next year.

Specific management actions and costs for water remediation and invasive plant prevention for each lake and the entire watershed continue to be developed by an interested group of individuals from Colby College, Maine DEP, MLRC, BRCA, lake associations, towns, local businesses, community members and outside consultants. A Watershed Management Plan will provide the basis for community fund raising efforts and management actions to reverse the declining water quality and spread of invasive plants in the Belgrade Lakes. Please know that we welcome and encourage your expertise, concerns, comments and discussion in this process. A Water Quality Community meeting is scheduled to discuss the 2016 data and lake remediation on October 20, 6pm here at the MLRC. We hope to see you there!

On August 3, 2016, the new MLRC-Colby Watershed Research Project was celebrated! This partnership will secure the collaboration between the Colby arts, humanities and sciences with our treasured lakes for years to come! Thank you President David Green and Mr. Tom Klinginstein for such a wonderful opportunity.

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Data continues to be displayed and updated weekly at the MLRC, on the MLRC website, and on the Belgrade Watershed Interactive Map. Please never hesitate to come into the MLRC to see what is happening or to ask questions or express concerns. Our two mudpuppies love to peek out beneath their rocks to welcome visitors in the lab!

Enjoy rest of the beautiful Maine summer! “Pulling together we can save our lakes.”

Water Quality Update – June 2016

-Article by Brenda Fekete with photographs by Logan Parker

Wow! Is it nearly July already? The early and unusually warm spring sent us out sampling in early April and we have been out weekly on all seven lakes ever since. It is so great to back out on the water with the Water Quality Initiative team!

This year’s team includes six Colby students. We are pleased to have three students returning from last year’s efforts, and welcome three new students to the crew. We have been busy with boat, laboratory and sampling training and are ready for our busy summer schedule. Please stop us when you see us on the water. We would love to introduce ourselves!

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Brenda Fekete taking an In-Situ water profile in the upper basin of Long Pond

We are often out on the water by 8 am. As completed during the 2015 season, we plan to continue our weekly secchi measurements, In-Situ water profiles to include temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH analysis, and surface water samples for plankton analysis on all seven lakes. Grab samples for nutrient and elemental analysis will be taken every two meters on a biweekly basis. We completed some early spring sediment sampling and plan to get another round of sediment samples in the fall.

In the afternoons we are in the Colby College labs completing our phosphate, nitrogen and metal analysis of the water samples and looking at the zooplankton and phytoplankton using the FlowCam that is housed at the MLRC. Come by the MLRC lab and see the awesome plankton pictures! And while you are here, please visit our mudpuppies and native fish tanks that Logan has on display.

Goldie was deployed on April 16 and started collecting data on April 17th. Real time data is displayed and explained on the Goldie website.

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Pete Kallin with one of the new buoys.

One of our early spring projects was to place a Water Quality Test Site buoy at each of the DEP sampling sites on all seven lakes. These buoys required a state permit and were purchased by each of the lake associations. Placed at the deepest parts of the lakes, these buoys will allow our teams to sample at the exact same site every time on every lake. Such will result in more consistent data collected from the deepest holes of the lake, thus increasing the accuracy of our results.   We plan to attach HOBO temperature and fluorescence sensors to each of the buoys in the near future. I would like to give a shout out to Pete Kallin who worked hard to get the permits for the buoys and for overseeing their safe arrival to the MLRC. Thank you to all of the lake associations for agreeing to have these buoys on their lakes and for helping to fund the effort. If you want to know where the deepest part of your lake is … come visit the WQ buoy. However, when visiting, please do not attach your boat to the buoys. Pulling on the buoys will cause the buoys to move from their desired DEP locations.

 

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Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) in the Serpentine Stream

We (in collaboration with the BRCA and DEP) have also deployed an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) and several pressure transducers to study the changes in depth and current direction and velocity in the East Pond Serpentine. An ADCP will measure water current velocities over a depth range using the Doppler effect of sound waves scattered back from particles within the water column. This information will allow us to study the movement of water between North Pond and East Pond. Grab samples for nutrient and elemental analysis will augment the data profiles.

I would like to thank L.L. Bean for their recent donations of two shorty wetsuits that make our spring and fall water adventures so much more enjoyable!

I would like to, again, thank all of our wonderful volunteers that escorted our students to the sampling sites last season. The students truly enjoy your company and appreciate your help in the sampling process. We would love to ask for your help again during the heavy July and August sampling. We also welcome any new volunteers that would like to join in the fun!

The weekly secchi measurements, temperature and dissolved oxygen data is presented on the online Interactive Map. You can also find the present and past weekly data on the Water Quality Data page of our website. We are currently working to develop a dynamic display area that will represent each of the seven lakes in the Belgrade Watershed. Come by and ask Logan Parker at the MLRC Gallery for details!

If you have any questions or comments about the Belgrade Watershed Water Quality Initiative, please do not hesitate to contact me at blfekete@colby.edu.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. It looks like is it going to be a beauty!!!

“Pulling together we can save our lakes!”

Observers View Bird-life in Messalonskee Marsh

Written by Logan Parker, MLRC Community Engagement Coordinator

Photographs by the trip participants

It was under an overcast sky that a handful of eager wildlife enthusiasts came aboard the Melinda Ann early on a foggy Saturday morning. Boat captain, Phil Mulville, eased the 30-foot pontoon boat away from the Sidney boat launch and directed the boat south. The passengers quietly chatted among themselves as the boat steadily made its way toward the expansive marsh that runs the length of Messalonskee Lake’s southern end. Meanwhile, the trip leaders, Louis Bevier, Don Mairs, and Logan Parker discussed where to begin the search for Sandhill Cranes, Black Terns, and other forms of marsh wildlife.

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Black Tern – Louis Bevier

As the boat neared the wetlands, Common Loons of various ages were spotted flying out over the lake and diving in pursuit of fish. A Bald Eagle was observed high in a White Pine 100 feet from a large eagle nest in another pine on the lakeshore. After a few minutes of raptor admiration, the boat pressed on along the marsh’s edge. Along the way, the birders observed a handful of acrobatic Purple Martins, the largest of the swallow species, and a female Common Loon sitting silently on her nest. Minding their distance, the crew pressed on deeper into the marshlands where Black Terns could be seen pursuing insects over the water.

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Sandhill Crane with chick – Alexander Wall

The sun broke through the clouds as the full boat of birders scanned the southeastern section for the marsh. The Black Terns (an endangered species in this state) were scarcer and more distant at first, but soon flew increasingly closer as the boat slowly traveled along the shore. “I’ve got a crane” said Bevier “A pair of Sandhill Cranes with chicks”. Mulville slowed the boat to stop. All optics were pointed east trying to pick out the tall, rusty-plumed cranes with their downy, chicken-sized chicks. The trip leaders worked with each participant until each had a good look at the well-camouflaged bird family foraging in the meadow-like wetlands.

Under sunny skies, the passengers chatted about their good fortune and reviewed photographs as the boat traveled back up the lake towards the boat launch. By the trip’s end, the crew aboard the Melinda Ann observed a total of 37 birds species. The participants (some of whom had driven nearly an hour to take part) departed with smiles on their faces and an eagerness to get out in the field again soon. The trip had been a great success.

To stay posted for future wildlife observation opportunities in the watershed, check keep up with our events page and follow the MLRC on Facebook.