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Swains Lake Water Testing

By: Pat Gingrich

A group of people got together last summer to do water testing as well as clarity and temperature measurements on Swain’s Lake. The group included Cliff McKenney (pontoon captain), Paul Silver, Pat Lenzi, Roger and Pat Gingrich. It took a while to get organized so actual testing didn’t begin until August 15 and continued through October 9. During that time we tested five times.

The first time we went out with Bob Craycraft, the Education Coordinator for the New Hampshire Lay Lakes Monitoring Program. He demonstrated how to collect the data step-by-step. We video-taped him and took pictures of each step of the testing. Roger and Pat Gingrich then created a PowerPoint that is available now on this web site. Pat also made a user-friendly chart of all the data that was collected and that, too, is now on this web site. We collected all the data using the metric system, but the data sheet posted on the Swains Lake web site has it all in the Standard measurement, using feet and degrees Fahrenheit.

We hope to begin collecting data again in early May. Once a month we will collect a water sample that will be further tested in Bob Craycraft’s lab on the UNH campus. The 2013 lab tests were for the following: Chlorophll a content; Dissolved “tea” color of the water; Alkalinity (mineral buffering capacity that neutralizes acid inputs; and Total phosphorus (all phosphorous in the water whether it be dissolved, part of a living organism or bound to other particles suspended in the lake water). Bob hopes that the 2014 tests will also include: Dissolved oxygen, pH, Specific Conductivity measurements and Cyanobacteria pigment analysis which detects the presence of potentially nuisance growth forms. Once a week, if possible, we will get out and measure the temperature of the lake at two points (off Mica Point—Site A; off Calef Island—Site B) and we will also measure the clarity using the Secchi Disk. These last two tests do not require further testing in the lab, so they can be done for a free.

Testing is supposed to take place between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM. It is best when it is not very windy. If the water is rough, it is hard to read the Secchi Disk. We try to get out sometime each week on M, T, W or Th—generally aiming for Wednesdays. Sometimes the weather is too unsettled so on those weeks, we skip it and hope for better weather the following week.

At the end of the year, we will get a report back from the Craycraft lab. This will help us monitor the condition of Swains Lake. We also plan to post the report on the web site once we get it, as well as, the weekly data on a spreadsheet after each testing throughout the summer. If you are available during the day and would like to be part of the testing crew, contact Pat Gingrich at 603-905-9351. And, I just found out that Cliff can’t be our captain this summer so we are in need of a person with a pontoon boat joining our team. Please volunteer if you can!

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