You Can Help Keep an Eye on Lake Clarity

While the name itself might not be clear, the Great North American Secchi Dip-In is focused on clarity. Water clarity, that is.

A volunteer lowers a Secchi Disk into the water of Contoocook Lake to check water clarity during the

A volunteer lowers a Secchi Disk into the water of Contoocook Lake to check water clarity during the Great North American Secchi  Dip-In.

The state Department of Environmental Services is currently taking part in the annual event, in which volunteers use something called a Secchi Disk – basically a circular disk with alternating black and white triangles – to check the clarity of our water bodies, and according to SEA member Sara Steiner, you can help.

“We encourage all volunteer lake monitors throughout the state to participate in the Dip-In to once again provide valuable information on lake clarity trends of our beautiful lakes,” said Steiner, the Volunteer Lake Assessment Coordinator for the DES. “With over 900 New Hampshire lakes, we are fortunate to have such a loyal group of monitors who provide such valuable information to NHDES and national programs like the Dip-In.”

New Hampshire’s lakes are a big tourist draw to our state, and as such are important to our economy. Keeping an eye on their health and clarity helps ensure that stream of tourists every year.

For the Dip-In, volunteers lower the Secchi Disk into the body of water until the observer can no longer see it anymore, and that depth is a measure of the transparency of the water. The data collection period started a few weeks ago and continues through July 20.

“Once people collect the data and enter it into the website, they’re tracking trends in water clarity nationally,” she said. “Over time, you can get an idea of how clarity can be changing, which gives us an idea of what else may be changing.”

Data from previous years has shown considerable differences in water clarity regionally. For example, lakes in the northern parts of the United States and in Canada typically have the clearest waters, while lakes in agricultural regions of the Midwest have some of the smallest transparencies.

Even if you’re not an experienced lake monitor, you can take part in the Dip-In.

“Everybody follows a standard method, and it’s fairly simple,” Steiner said. “We have written instructions available, and extra Secchi Disks on hand that we can loan to anybody who wants to take part.”

You can read more about the Great North American Secchi Dip-In at www.secchidipin.org. If you’d like to take part, you can contact Steiner at 271-2658.

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