SHYRACUSE — The next time you are out on Lake Wawasee, keep an eye out for the green buoy and its orange flag in Natti Crow Bay.
What you might find is Lilly Center’s research buoy that’s now collecting data or the second consecutive year.
The buoy’s sensor array collects several hundred data points each day. It measures parameters like pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen every 15 minutes.
If the success continues, officials may expand lake buoy monitoring to other locations or lakes. For now, this pilot project will remain only on Lake Wawasee.
For over 15 years, the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams has conducted studies and routine testing on Kosciusko County’s lakes and streams, including Lake Wawasee and its inflowing and outflowing streams. Each summer, lake sampling occurs on 14 local lakes once a week from June through August. But what if there was a way to look at the lake between samplings, a way that could show us patterns that we may not have otherwise seen?
“A research buoy on one of our lakes is key to making our county’s lakes healthier,” explains Dr. Nate Bosch, Lilly Center director. “It’s a strategic solution to understanding one of the major challenges on our lakes: algae toxins. We’re thankful for generous supporters and partners who made this idea a reality.”
The idea for this custom research buoy came from conversations with Alex Levinson and Alan Tehan. The buoy itself was made in collaboration with the Department of Engineering at Grace College. The sensor array beneath the buoy, the part that gathers the data, is a specialized piece of monitoring equipment similar to the one used for routine lake sampling.
“This information will continue to expand our knowledge of how algae, nutrients, and other water quality parameters vary over time,” explains Matt Burlingame, assistant director of research. “It will give us additional insight into how these conditions impact microcystin toxin production in our lakes.”
In the meantime, the buoy continues to collect daily data from Lake Wawasee. In conjunction with other research conducted by the Lilly Center, this data is a piece of the puzzle to better understand how to make Kosciusko County’s lakes clean, healthy, safe, and beautiful.