Runoff Ramblings

Leaning down and stretching, the soft skin of my fingertips brushing against the roughness of my shoes, I think back to my last visit to the lake. Making my way down to the same spot was a matter of following memory. Stepping out of my car, parked down in the rough gravel by the volleyball court, I venture down to the small cove at a brisk jog, making sure to not trip on any of the exposed roots or mud patches. It’s still relatively early in the morning, the sun only barely painting the tips of the trees above my head, and the air is brisk company for me. By the time I reach the shore of the lake where I had been a mere day ago, my mind has wandered, going through my other plans for the day. The brief glimmers of the water, glinting in gentle motion, snaps me back to my task, and I look out onto the lake.

Clear Water? No Thanks

I am greeted by the same, eye-catching sight that I was yesterday. Algae, in patches and clusters, ridden across the surface of the lake. The water in this particular portion is still, allowing the algae to float calmly and without fear of displacement.

Before me, I begin to see the connections occurring in this wild place. Everything snaps into place in my mind, and a theory begins to develop. Algae in lakes can only grow and thrive when relying on the nutrients present in the water. Too many nutrients can lead to phenomenon and events such as eutrophication and algae blooms. The algae in this particular alcove of the lake, I believe, is spurred on by the local runoff and erosion. This particular portion of the lake is location next to a gentle slope leading down from a field. When gravity takes water down this slope, it can displace and gather nutrients and particles from the soil along the way. Erosion, evident in the crumbling portion of the lakeside that I stand beside, can also contribute to adding nutrients to the water. It appears that this portion of the lake has succumbed to a state of overflowing nutrient levels, prompting the growth of the algae that catches my eyes in this early morning.

The biological surroundings of this portion of the lake might also have something to do with the murky state of the water. In this water peninsula, as I believe it is appropriate to call it (it is surrounded by land on three sides), there are many trees, of different sizes, shapes, and shades, hanging over the water, depositing a stray leaf into the lake from time to time. While it’s not pollution, the addition of organic matter into water can further serve to throw off mineral balance.

This post is vastly different from all of the others that I have written before it. While I normally tell a story of a trip to the lake and its surrounding landscape, with natural elements worked in, I decided to focus on a specific detail that I found to be fascinating in this blog post. While I will most likely revert back to storytelling in my next posts, this was, in my mind, a welcome change of pace. Until next time…

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