BVU students find practical experience and community service in lake testing.
Water quality in watershed of Storm Lake shows im-provements over last year - but that's to be expected after record low water levels in Storm Lake in 2000.
"Generally water quality was improved over last year, but that's mostly due to the level of the lake," said Dr. Jon Hutchins, professor of chemistry at Buena Vista University. He was the faculty advisor to the Water Quality Protection Project. Student Carly Tyler was the student in charge of water testing this year.
The main goal of the Storm Lake Water Quality Protection Project is to determine the impact of the conservation measures implemented by the Natural Resource Conservation Service on the watershed. It is one of the only programs that regularly monitors water quality.
This year Tyler and Hutchins performed more testing on Storm Lake itself. In previous years tests generally were done at on-shore sites.
"We didn't do as much work in the watershed, but I thought we should actually get out and look at the lake itself," Hutchins said.
Both Tyler and Hutchins brought their own interests to the project, with Hutchins examining turbidity and Tyler examining E. Coli.
The project also tests other aspects of water quality. Conductivity shows the levels of nitrates and phosphorus, and overall gives a basic idea of water quality. "All of those tested at good levels," Hutchins said.
However, much of the lake's natural mechanisms, Hutchins said, were still resetting themselves after last year when Storm Lake dropped to as low as three feet in some areas and Little Storm Lake shrunk to no more than a puddle.
One after-effect is at the inlet to Storm Lake from Little Storm Lake. Turbidity tested higher there on average than in other areas, Hutchins said.
"I ascribe that to the virtual loss of Little Storm Lake last year," he said.