Water Quality Evaluation Project

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2021 Parker's Prairie High School Environmental Science Day
Our Lake Association amd Smokey Timbers sponsored Marlene Schoeneck's Parkers Prairie environmental class project at Lake Miltona in October.

The essential question of the project was "10,000 Lakes and a Faucet....Why Should I Worry?" Their project explored what is happening to Lake Miltona to cause the proliferation of "weeds" on the lake in certain areas.

Lake Miltona "weeds" have been slowly increasing in recent years, but the past five years they have become more extreme. Many residents who have lived on the lake for many years have said they they have never seen anything like it. The other mystery is there are areas of excessive proliferation of vegetation, and others that have a "normal" amount of "weeds".

To explore these questions two areas of Lake Miltona with different "weed" growth were chosen. A slide show was presented to 1) review the student's experimental procedures used to explore these areas, 2) the data obtained, and 3) their conclusions.

See details and photographs at the links below.

Presentation

Photos

2019 Water Quality Parker's Prairie High School "College In The Schools"

Marlene Schoeneck's Parkers Prairie High School "College in the Schools" Environmental Biology class was hosted September 25th on Lake Miltona at the Smokey Timbers site by the Lake Miltona Association for a research program sing the Guiding question: "How do our streams and quality of water affect the fish (particularly Walleye) population in Lake Miltona?"

The class was divided into three teams that assessed both a stream inlet, and an open water site. An LMA member guided each team to various lake locations to carry out their assessments. These included obtaining water samples for chemical analyses, water clarity, and plankton surveys. They also characterized the zebra mussel levels, depth of vegetation, and temperature as a function of depth in the lake. For the streams, they measured flow rates and made general observations concerning the characteristics of the streams, their culverts, and how the stream interacts with the surround ecosystem.

The data that each group collected was then used to answer their priority questions, and to make a claim, or claims, to answer the Guiding Question. They complied evidence to support their claims and related it to logical justification for the claims based on science and ecological processes.

Their work and conclusions were summarized in a presentation given to the LMA Board of Directors at our October 12th board meeting. Their presentation and conclusions (pdf) can be viewed in a separate browser window.

2018 Water Quality Parker's Prairie High School "College In The Schools"
Students from Marlene Schoeneck's Environmental Biology class partnered with the Lake Association members Paul Anderson, Steve DeSutter, and Gene Rose to collect data on the lake on September 27, 2018.

The project focus was to determine the cause of increased aquatic vegetation in various areas of the lake. Data collected included plant types, water clarity, bottom substrate, nitrates, phosphates, and shoreline plant cover. All these were evaluated as possible contributors to an increased plant growth.

CONCLUSIONS
Although there is no hard and fast conclusions to date, the students' data did give some strong indicators. Comparing to historical DNR data, the following conclusions were made:
PHOSPHATE - levels are steady

NUTRIENT LOAD - does not appear to have changed significantly.

PLANT SPECIES - does not appear to have changed significantly.

WATER CLARITY - has increased in recent years due to filtering by zebra mussels.

PLANT GROWTH - was greater in areas with "mucky" bottom substrate. Appears to be more prevalent in areas with organic soil runoff. Shorelines that are primarily sand had less vegetation. There also seems to be a relationship with bulrushes holding organic matter in shorelines.

The reports listed below will provide all the student's details and findings.
LakeMitonaStudy.pdf
LakeMiltonaStudyData.pdf
OurConclusion.pdf

2015 Water Quality Evaluation Project Findings
A special thanks for the work by Marlene Schoeneck's Environmental Biology Class Parker's Prairie for data collection and interpretation of the status of the zebra mussel infestation in Lake Miltona. We look forward to continuing our program of water quality evaluation with them.

You can read a full description of their project in the Nov 2015 Newsletter (pdf). Below are links to the evaluation reports on Inlet Stream and Mussel Threat.
Link to PDF of Miltona Newsletter 2015 Fall

zebra mussel huypothesis image
Lake Miltona Stream Investigation2015

health of streams flowing into lake miltona image
ZebraMusselsPP2015

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