Volunteers from Six Mile Lake Association have been monitoring water quality on the lake through Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council for over 25 years. The objectives of the program are “to collect baseline data, characterize lake ecosystems, identify specific water quality problems, determine water quality trends, and, most importantly, inform and educate the public regarding water quality issues and aquatic ecology. Monitoring water quality does not ensure clean water, but rather provides valuable information to help protect and improve water quality in the lakes of northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.”
We take several measurements once a week from June until the end of August in the deepest part of the lake. The Secchi disk measures water clarity and is a black and white disk lowered into the water until it cannot be seen any more, and that depth is recorded. Air and surface water temperature are also recorded weekly. Bi-weekly we take a water sample which involves lowering a weighted device that when raised slowly collects a sample of the entire water column. We force that sample through a syringe which has a filter in it. The filter is then stored in a freezer and turned in to the Watershed Council at the end of the season. These are sent to U of M Bio station for analysis of chlorophyll-a concentration which gives us an estimate of the amount of algae found in our lake. You can find more information on the testing and also results from all the monitored lakes on www.watershedcouncil.org under monitoring programs. A database is available for download.
Many volunteers have been involved in this effort. Joe Nerone started it and did the monitoring for many years. Kelly Hogan and Preston Saenz have also worked on it. Gary and I have been doing it for 3 years. I think it is important to continue this effort so that we get a picture of the health of our lake over time. I am glad we have the opportunity through Tip of the Mitt to collect and compile the data.