January 17th 2022 By Walt Hessler
Loon Lake’s Water – Where It Comes From/Where It Goes
Loon Lake is in the upper portion of the Tippecanoe River Watershed. We are a vital member of the Tippecanoe Watershed, and we are considered part of the headwaters of the Tippecanoe River. The following is a simplified description of where our water comes from and where it ultimately goes.
There are three main inlets supplying water to Loon Lake. The Friskney Ditch brings water in near the public access site on the south side of the lake. This ditch starts out and travels through the farmland south and east of Loon Lake. The water traveling through this ditch goes through a retention pond created by the Loon Lake Property Owners Association (LLPOA) back in the 1990s. The retention pond is designed to filter out some of the sediment that comes from the farm fields that surround the Friskney Ditch. There are efforts being made by The Watershed Foundation (TWF) to further reduce the sediment and improve the quality of the water entering Loon Lake from the Friskney Ditch.
The Winters Ditch is also located on the south end of Loon Lake and comes into the lake near the corner of CR250 and CR700. This water comes out of Goose Lake and travels north through farmland to Loon Lake. This is again a potential target for long term plans for water quality improvements being made by TWF.
The third major contributor to Loon Lake’s water is the short ditch that runs from Old Lake. Old Lake’s water comes from New Lake. Ultimately the water from New and Old Lakes comes into Loon Lake. The quality of the water coming from this inlet is typically very good since it comes from two lakes and is minimally influenced by agricultural runoff.
All of Loon Lake’s water flows to the north and exits Loon Lake through the ditch (Shaefer Drain) on the north end of the Lake near Buckles Road. Downstream this water combines with the water coming from Crooked Lake and Big Lake. According to the Director of the US Geological Survey the start of the Tippecanoe River is the tiny channel flowing from Little Crooked Lake to Crooked Lake. Thus, Loon Lake’s outgoing water goes downstream and immediately flows into what is considered the early stages of the Tippecanoe River. This combined water flows north and west through Smally Lake. The water then flows west into Wilmot Pond, which is formed by a small dam on its western side. After Wilmot, Tippecanoe River crosses into Kosciusko County and enters Backwaters Lake, the basin of Webster Lake. After going over the dam at Webster Lake, the river travels a few miles and enters Lake Tippecanoe. The water exiting Lake Tippecanoe reforms and continues as the Tippecanoe River. The water in the Tippecanoe River then flows into the Wabash River, then into the Ohio River, then into the Mississippi River and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. As you can see Loon Lake’s water travels a long way!
One of the most important parts of Loon Lake’s water’s path to the Gulf of Mexico is its trip through the Tippecanoe River. The Miami and Shawnee Indians named the Tippecanoe River Kithtippecanunk, or “place of the buffalo fish,” which still can be found in the river. Its clear waters and wooded shores provide rich habitat for the abundance of fish, mussels and wildlife that live here. Very few streams in the upper Midwest can match the number of imperiled species or the overall species diversity that the Tippecanoe River supports. The Nature Conservancy has identified it as one of the top ten rivers in the United States to preserve due to its ecological diversity and the high proportion of endangered species found in it.
Loon Lake plays an important role in the Tippecanoe River and its watershed. This is great news for Loon Lake homeowners. Because of the importance of the Tippecanoe River watershed, we receive assistance with water quality improvements through grants and the work done by TWF. The LLPOA Board and the TWF will continue to work to protect and improve Loon Lake’s water quality. We hope you can appreciate the impact Loon Lake plays in a much larger water quality plan.
Ongoing Water Quality Monitoring at Loon Lake
April 6th 2021 By Walt Hessler
It is important to monitor the quality of the water that enters Loon Lake. Monitoring provides the objective evidence necessary to make sound decisions on managing Loon Lake’s water quality today and in the future. Water-quality monitoring is used to alert us to any potential problems and to determine how to address any problems that may be detected.
You cannot tell much about the quality of water simply by looking at it; most pollutants are invisible to our eyes. Nutrients are the primary cause of water pollution. The primary pollutants in this category are nitrogen and phosphorus. This type of pollution has impaired more than 3.8 million acres of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs nationwide. Excess nutrients cause algae to grow out of control and use all the available oxygen in water, killing off other organisms that need oxygen to live.
The most effect method for identifying these harmful nutrients is to conduct testing of the water entering a body of water like Loon Lake. The Watershed Foundation (TWF) conducts monthly testing on the Winters ditch which is the largest tributary supplying water into Loon Lake. Watershed Foundation Baseline Water Quality Assessment consists of monthly water chemistry sample collection. Sampling occurs regardless of flow and weather conditions from February to October. The 2021 monitoring season will be the 11th consecutive sampling year. Two sample bottles are filled for analysis of:
- Total phosphorus
- Dissolved oxygen
- Water temperature
- Turbidity (water clarity)
The data collected are compared to a set of water quality targets and compared to previous years and baseline standards.
TWF also annually conducts a Snapshot Monitoring day in which the same types of data are collected from a total of four tributaries feeding into Loon Lake. This is part of over two hundred citizen scientists joined forces to collect, test and analyze water samples from across our locality. All the data collected is again compared to previous years data and baseline standards. All the information is mapped and made available on the TWF website (https://watershedfoundation.org/2020-snapshot-day-results/). Snapshot Monitoring Day will be held on September 23rd this year. You do not need any prior training or experience to participate!
In addition to all this testing there is a color and clarity test done in Loon Lake twice a week from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day using a Secchi disc. This data is provided to Indiana University “Clean Lakes”.
The Loon Lake Property Owners Association (LLPOA) has requested and been granted a complete Water Monitoring Kit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Hoosier Riverwatch. The goal is to expand the monthly Loon Lake water monitoring done by TWF. The first target will be the outlet on the north end of Loon Lake. This will provide additional information on the quality of the water in Loon Lake. This new testing will start in April.
It is especially important that the work done by TWF and the LLPOA help protect and ensure the health of Loon Lake and the quality of the water feeding into our lake. The purpose of water monitoring is to:
- Produce water quality data needed to understand and protect our watersheds and aquatic resources.
- Become aware of water quality issues and aquatic resources and engaged in effective watershed stewardship, especially pollution prevention.
- Help to identify problem areas that need further investigation and reduce the risk of water quality degradation.
The goal of this article is to raise awareness about water issues and to inform the Loon Lake residence of the important efforts being made to protect and improve Loon Lake’s water quality. It takes volunteers and support to accomplish all the water monitoring discussed in this article. Both the LLPOA and TWF are always in need of volunteers. You can contact TWF at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact the LLPOA at email@example.com to volunteer.
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