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Water Quality Basics

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Photo by Smith Group who designed Caesar Creek Marina

We describe water as cold, clear, cloudy, blue, brown, calm. All of these describe qualities of water. Other properties of water require specialized tests to measure things like pH, dissolved oxygen concentrations, conductivity or turbidity. How we use water plays a role in our perception of water quality. Streams leading into Caesar Creek Lake may be used for fishing, recreation, crop irrigation, water for livestock and other uses. Most of the incoming creeks are wadable. Color ranges from clear to brown depending on recent rains. Turbidity or cloudiness can also be dependent on rain. pH in the streams is slightly basic with values >7. Local geology greatly influences pH and provides a buffer to help prevent drastic swings in pH. Conductivity levels are typically higher in the streams due to close contact with limestone and other rocks that can partially dissolve in water. Dissolved oxygen levels are typically higher in streams but can become depleted in warm summer months when stream flows can be reduced to a trickle. Land use can also have a large impact on water quality in streams. Nutrient enrichment from fertilizer runoff or leaking septic systems can negatively impact stream water quality. Sediment can also negatively impact a stream. Water quality is closely tied to what is happening on land near the streams. Since streams leading into Caesar Creek Lake are typically shallow, water quality and conditions can change rapidly. The amount of water moving through the streams can also change rapidly.

Water in the lake is utilized for recreation, fishing, as a source for drinking water, and as a home for aquatic life. Caesar Creek Lake is the deepest manmade lake in Ohio. While this is an interesting fact, it also impacts the characteristics and quality of water in the Lake. The calm lake water typically takes on a greenish appearance in the summer months and can appear blue in the winter. Algae and plankton make up the base of the food chain so their presence is important. It is only when they become overabundant that they can become problematic. Water quality changes such as an increase in nutrients or an increase in E. coli can degrade water. The Deep lake becomes stratified in the summer with warm water staying at the top of the water column and cool low oxygenated water at greater depths.

The depth where you see a rapid temperature change is called the thermocline. During the Fall months, the top layer of water cools. Eventually the cool water becomes similar in temperature to the lower layer and causes the thermal stratification to break down. The result is a mixing of the top and bottom layers, called lake turnover. Knowing dissolved oxygen levels and temperature in the lake can help guide water treatment, dam operations and at what depth the fish are biting.

Last updated Thursday, 29-Apr-2021 14:48:37 UTC