On December 28, the Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind., was contacted with a concern that Center Lake in Warsaw, Ind., was exhibiting a reddish tint. Following this, on January 3, Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock, contacted the Center for Lakes and Streams with reports of a pink and orange foamy substance being found on Center Lake. The Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, Kosciusko County Emergency Management Department, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources were also involved in detection and investigation of the substance.
In response to these reports, the Center for Lakes and Streams collected samples from Center Lake on Tuesday, January 3 for lab analysis at Grace College.
According to Dr. Nate Bosch, the director of the center, reddish coloration or presence of foam in local lakes are not new situations. “We confirmed algae as the cause of Hill and Diamond lakes appearing red in southern Kosciusko County back in 2011, and foam is a common occurrence in many of our lakes due to natural surfactants in lake water,” Bosch explained.
Initial lab results from the Center for Lakes and Streams at Grace College have supported the algae coloration connection as the dominant algae type in Center Lake was Planktothrix which can have a reddish coloration. The algae is common in many lakes of the region, causes a red or purple tint, and can form algae blooms during late winter immediately after the disappearance of ice. Planktothrix is a type of blue-green algae which can be harmful to the health of people and pets. While the algae is capable of producing toxins, no toxins have yet been detected in Center Lake as a result of the algae bloom. Furthermore, due to cold temperatures at this time of year, there is little concern for any human or pet exposure of toxins. No environmental impacts have yet been reported as a result of the algae either.
The center will continue to actively monitor Center Lake over the coming weeks. This latest lake-related public concern highlights the importance of the Center for Lakes and Streams studying local lakes to guide strategic actions based on science. The center has been collaborating with the K21 Health Foundation on local blue-green algae research as well as with the City of Warsaw and the Kosciusko County Health Department on recent research related to Center Lake.
The Center for Lakes and Streams monitors local lakes and streams for emerging threats by regularly sampling local streams, responding to immediate lake threats including local spills, and educates the community regarding local lake threats and taking care of county lakes and streams. Continual monitoring of waterways, even throughout the winter months, is important for understanding the overall health of local lakes and streams.
The Center for Lakes and Streams at Grace College conducts applicable research, engages and educates residents, and collaborates with other organizations in efforts to make the lakes and streams of Kosciusko County cleaner. For more information or to support their efforts, visit lakes.grace.edu.