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Daniel R.

Natural water sources are a vital part of our ecosystem. A healthy lake can help keep the land around it healthy. This is why studying and analyzing our water resources is so important.

Lake Piney Z used to be a free flowing source to the Floridan Aquifer. In times of flood, the lake was high, the fish were abundant, and the recreational opportunities rich. The homeowners around the lake wanted to keep this the water level high year round. Dams were built on either side of the lake in an effort to contain the water the preserve the source of recreation.

After years of idle sitting, the lake began to build sediment its bottom. Environmentalists convinced the city to buy the lake so that it could be restored to its natural state. The lake was drained and the dredging of the four feet of sediment began.

The dredged sediment was used to build levees, or dykes, on the sides of the lake. These dykes were to be used for recreational activities that the healthy lake would provide: fishing, boating, hunting (with a license), and other outdoor activities. The lilies and wild grasses growing on the bottom of the lake were mowed and used to sod the dykes. Now, Lake Piney Z is almost healthy. Of course, it faces another problem now. A community has been built south of the lake and all of its runoff water may be affecting the lake’s security. Can this problem be solved before it begins? City officials are trying to pass a bill that all land within 20 feet of a tributary to the lake must remain unsettled. This raises a property value issue, and therefore the bill may not be passed. A few years down the road, will the value of that tributary land be as important as a lake suffering once again? Will keeping the land unsettled keep the lake clean, and therefore keep the property value up, despite the smaller area?

A few terms should be defined when asking these questions.

Karst topography
. Karst topography is the combination of underground and aboveground water passages and the system of springs of sinkholes that connect them. It is found in porous rocks, such as limestone, wearing away over time. The Lake Piney Z feeds into a sinkhole on its east end that empties into the Floridan Aquifer, that comes back out in a spring somewhere else in the state.

. Eutrophication is the process by which sediments or sewage enters a water source. This process is okay in small proportions, but when the sediment builds up, it can be dangerous.

Floridan Aquifer
. The Floridan Aquifer is the underground source of water that all sinkholes and springs in Florida feed off of. Water in Florida is also pumped out of the
aquifer through wells. Lake Piney Z is a tributary of the Floridan Aquifer.

Water Quality
. Water quality is very important to the health of a lake. A few aspects of water quality are temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, phosphates, and nitrates.

. Temperature can affect the life in a lake. If the water is an extreme hot or cold temperature, fish, plants, and other animal and organic life cannot survive. We measured temperature with a digital thermometer. A good water temperature is room temperature (25° C/72° F).

Dissolved Oxygen
. Dissolved oxygen is the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water. This is important to researchers because if the DO level is too low, the fish won’t have enough oxygen to breath. We measured DO using a kit of dyes and other chemical reagents that turn the DO in a measurable parameter.

. pH is the amount of Acid in the water. The natural pH of water is 7, a neutral pH. If the lake is eutrophicated to either extreme, the pH level can jump up or down, causing the lake to become too acidic of basic for life to survive in it. We measured pH using a digital collecting device.

. If a lake is turbid, than it has sediment or foreign particles suspended in it. This is a direct effect of eutrophication, and a direct cause of extreme pH values. We measured turbidity by visual observation.

Phosphates and Nitrates
. Phosphates and nitrates are two major nutrients for plants. There is a delicate balance of how much of each can be in a lake and let the lake support life. Fertilizers and lightening and are various examples of how phosphate and nitrate levels can be thrown off.

As you can see, healthy natural water resources are vital to our ecosystem. If I could do this project again, I would have paid more careful attention to the weather each day we took measurements. I think the forecast highly affected various parameters of the water. However, the project itself made me much more aware of our water resources and how important they are. I never knew about any of the parameters we researched, other than temperature. I also found the lake history to be very interesting. I’m sure that in the future I will be more careful with my actions that may affect our local water sources.