COMMUNITY COLUMN: Monitoring our lake water

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

By Peggy Bullard

Living on Lake Mitchell is a great privilege that most of us do not take lightly.

The mission of HOBO (Home Owners Boat Owners) is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of life in and around Lake Mitchell.

One way we do this is through water monitoring.



Members volunteer and train to become water monitors. The Lake Mitchell HOBO Water Watch formed in 1995, with initial monitoring on Pennamotley Creek.

There are now eight sites around the lake that are monitored with monitors sending in reports to the Alabama Water Watch (AWW) office for entry into a statewide database.

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is one of the parameters measured by the monitors. All fish and most other aquatic creatures depend upon oxygen from the water. A consistent range above 5 ppm indicates a “healthy” aquatic environment.

Lake clarity is another measure of lake health. Eroded soil reduces clarity and turns the water brown. This affects the light penetration into the water and can upset the natural aquatic food cycles. Such things as faulty septic systems and runoff of lawn fertilizers or animal wastes reduce water clarity. A device called Secchi disk is used to measure water clarity.

There are many advantages for citizen-based water monitoring: It provides long-term, credible and useful data, an early warning system, fast response to detect and measure polluted runoff and invasive plants and neighbor-to-neighbor awareness to reduce pollution; increases local awareness; and provides important data supplied to the agency for research.

As individuals we become more conscious of what we put in the lake and because of our awareness we can educate others.

Our current water monitors are: Bill Lees, Pennamotley Creek; Jim Woodrow, main river south of Cargile Creek; Chilton County, Becki McCallum (first inlet south of Walnut Creek), Rebecca Beaty (Finger Slough), Phil Ward (main river); Coosa County, and Patsy Wideman (Walnut Creek).

We thank each of them for their dedication to keep Lake Mitchell clean and healthy.

Speaking of keeping Lake Mitchell clean, there will be a Renew Our Rivers Clean Up on Saturday, April 13 beginning at 8 a.m. at Higgins Ferry. We invite anyone who would like to participate. Just show up and we will put you on the trash. It is dirty work but lots of fellowship followed by a hot dog lunch.

–Peggy Bullard is a community columnist for the Lake Mitchell area. Her column appears monthly.