Lake Manager’s Report – August 2019
Randy Stowe, email@example.com
1. The Nippersink Watershed Association met and exceeded its fund-raising goal of $7,000, which enables the NWA to receive an additional $21,000 in grant funding from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) for the on-going Merchant Creek restoration project.
2. The regularly scheduled “3rd Saturday” Nippersink Watershed Association Merchant Creek workday will be on Saturday, August 17th, 2019 to continue to clear invasive brush and weeds from a portion of the Merchant Creek stream corridor. This volunteer work is being done in advance of an upcoming IEPA Section 319 funded stream stabilization project to help minimize the significant amounts of sediment that this parcel has delivered to Wonder Lake over the past decades, due to a long-term lack of proper management by the previous landowner. Please note the meeting location being used for this workday. Park Drive is the second side street off Wooded Shores Drive coming west from East Wonder Lake Road. As always, volunteers are welcome, and there are tasks available for all levels of effort.
3. In March of 2019, the MPOA began announcing that a lake drawdown would be conducted in October of 2019. This will be the first Wonder Lake drawdown since 2007, and is being done in order to allow some needed concrete patching to be done to the Wonder Lake Dam spillway, as well as to complete some mechanical dredging in an area of West Bay that could not be accessed by the hydraulic dredge. The MPOA intentionally provided early notice of the drawdown to allow lakefront landowners time to secure the regulatory permits for any shoreline projects that they might want to implement during the drawdown, and so that lakefront landowners could plan ahead for dealing with the removal of their in-lake equipment this fall.Wonder Lake will remain at its normal elevation through Labor Day and well into mid-September. Depending recent rainfall and predicted weather patterns in mid-to-late September, the lake will slowly be lowered to spillway height so the actual drawdown can begin as planned by October 1. Starting October 1st, 2019, the actual lake drawdown will begin, with lake levels beginning to drop more quickly. It is estimated that the lake level will be lowered by at least two feet below the dam spillway elevation, but the actual extent of the drawdown needed will not be determined until the upper portion of the upstream dam spillway face is exposed, and the extent of concrete patching required can be visually observed. It is hoped that all of the spillway repairs and dredging work can be completed by the end of October, so that the lake can begin re-filling. Obviously, the length of time for the lake to refill will be subject to how much rainfall occurs this fall, but based on the last drawdown, the lake should be back to normal pool for winter sports activities. Given this timeframe, lakefront landowners should be planning accordingly for removing their in-lake equipment for the winter.
4. Although there have been no known occurrences of blue-green algae on Wonder Lake this year (or in any recent summer), hot weather makes conditions favorable for a possible algae bloom. Information on blue-green algae blooms can be found on the MPOA website https://wlmpoa.org/faq-about-blue-green-algae-cyanobacteria and on the following page.
Algae Fatal To Dogs Found In Illinois: Health Officials
Earlier this summer, IDPH and the Illinois EPA warned of possible toxic algae blooms on Illinois lakes and rivers. (Illinois EPA) Over the last few weeks, reports of dogs dying due to blue-green algae toxicity have been reported in several states.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Department of Public Health have urged residents to report sightings of harmful — and potentially fatal to dogs — blue-green algae blooms. A warning from the Illinois EPA came in June, two months before multiple reports nationwide of dogs dying after swimming in ponds containing blue-green algae. IDPH said the agencies were conducting surveillance on Illinois lakes, rivers and ponds after news of harmful algae blooms (HABs) around the nation this summer. Residents are also asked to report any possible sightings of harmful algae, as well as any illness in humans or animals.
Earlier this summer, Woods Creek Lake in Lake In The Hills was closed for nearly a week after toxic algae was discovered. Two years ago, the St. Charles Park District warned dog owners to keep their pets out of the water after the toxic algae was found in a pond at a dog park. Devastating reports of dogs dying just hours after swimming in water containing the toxic algae have surfaced in several states.
What is toxic blue-green algae, and why is it bad?
According to IDPH, "Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are photosynthetic bacteria that are a natural part of the aquatic environment. Blue-green algae are often present in Illinois lakes in small or moderate amounts, but can grow and proliferate quickly in warm, fresh water that is rich with nutrients."
Harmful algae blooms may appear as a thick scum layer or green paint on the surface of the water, and can be a variety of colors such as blue, green or brown and may have a foul odor, IDPH said.
Most blue-green algae is harmless, but "the production of toxins is what makes an algal bloom harmful," according to IDPH. "Microcystin is the most well-known toxin produced during a harmful algal bloom, and it can cause a variety of symptoms by affecting the skin, liver, GI tract and nervous system. Ingestion, inhalation, or direct contact with contaminated water may cause illness."
Harmful algae can cause illness in young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, as well as animals. Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing or wheezing.
If you see a potential harmful algae bloom, avoid the water and notify the Illinois EPA of a possible HAB event via the HAB report form.
- Do not swim or wade through algal scums
- Do not boat, water ski, jet ski, or fish where algal scum is present
- Always shower off with soap and water after swimming in a lake, river, or pond
- Do not let dogs drink, eat, or lick algal scum off their fur
- Wash your dog off with clean water immediately if your dog swims or wades in water during an algal bloom.
If you think you or anyone else has symptoms that are a result of exposure to toxic algae, contact your health care provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your pet experiences symptoms that may be a result of exposure, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How to spot toxic blue-green algae
The Illinois EPA said telltale signs of a harmful algae blooms include water that:
- looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint
- has surface scums, mats or films
- is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
- has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.
Activities near, but not in or on a lake or river, such as camping, picnicking, biking and hiking are not affected, according to the Illinois EPA. With all activities, wash your hands before eating if you have had contact with lake water or shore debris.