The Wawasee watershed is fragile. The smallest actions – on land and water – can have a great and lasting impact on the quality of water in the watershed. Boats, shoreline development, and even the plants and animals on the land can have a negative effect on water quality. Remaining a good steward of this important resource requires a full understanding of the threats and corrective actions necessary to minimize negative impact on the watershed.
Sediment and nutrients (namely phosphorus and nitrates) and pathogens (primarily E. coli) are currently present in the lakes and streams of the Wawasee Area Watershed. They compromise the health, aesthetics, and recreational value of our lakes and streams. They are the result of human actions. Although some of these threats can be treated and neutralized, some change the lake forever.
Deep draft boating in shallow lake waters can stir up nutrients that are deposited on our lake bottoms. Improper boating can tear up the lake bottom and threaten vegetation and wildlife, and it can also significantly decrease water clarity of lakes because it stirs up sediment and nutrients. The nutrients spur the growth of aquatic plants and algae in the water.
As one of the main sources of water inflow to Lake Wawasee, Dillon Creek has a significant impact on the quality of water in Lake Wawasee. Every year, Dillon Creek deposits a considerable amount of sediment in Lake Wawasee. This impact is evident in the large sediment plume that appears where its waters enter the lake after big rainstorms.
Run-off from farms and residential properties, which contain fertilizers and animal waste, can also have harmful effects. Toxic, blue-green algae is just one example. This dangerous algae can sicken and kill fish and other animals, and is dangerous to humans.
In addition to blue-green algae, starry stonewort is another invasive algae that is beginning to show dangerous effects in the Wawasee Area Watershed. First seen in Michigan in the late 1990s, this aggressive and destructive algae appeared in Lake Wawasee in 2010.