Algae growth sparks Torch Lake study

[USA] Torch Lake, famous for its crystal-clear and turquoise blue water, took on an ochre hue for a second straight year.

A layer of golden-brown algae growing on the lake bed clouded the traditionally clear waters, an unsettling shade shift for some area residents.

From left, Paul Roush, Trish Narwold, Art Hoadley, Fred Sittell assemble groundwater wells to take samples on Torch Lake this summer.
From left, Paul Roush, Trish Narwold, Art Hoadley, Fred Sittell assemble groundwater wells to take samples on Torch Lake this summer.

“You’ve got a pristine, clean lake with a sandy bottom and it’s changing the appearance, it’s changing the color,” said Becky Norris, the water quality chairwoman of Three Lakes Association.

Algae growth was noticeable in summer 2014, and it got worse this year. The spike led some residents to study the slimy, golden-brown algae growth.

Algae grows in striped patterns on Torch Lake this summer.
Algae grows in striped patterns on Torch Lake this summer.

They want to answer one question.

“What changed?” said Dean Branson, a Three Lakes Association board member and Torch Lake homeowner. “What happened over the last few years that suddenly it was not there, and now it’s there?”

Everyone has a theory why growth has spiked said Greg Payne, president of the Torch Lake Protection Alliance. Some people point to zebra mussels, increased development and leaky septic systems as possible causes. Payne thinks ice cover plays a role — Torch Lake froze over the past two winters, and he hasn’t seen that in years past.

Golden-brown algae grows on the sand in Torch Lake in summer.
Golden-brown algae grows on the sand in Torch Lake in summer.

Local organizations, including the Three Lakes Association and Torch Lake Protection Alliance, are working with a team of university researchers to determine what’s causing the algae growth.

 

Photo: Algae grows in striped patterns on Torch Lake this summer.

View original article at: Algae growth sparks Torch Lake study

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