Lake Condition Update

Horsehead Lake's State Trophic Index, as evidenced by the latest DNR water sampling, shows our lake has moved to a more healthy state - from "Eutrophic" to "Oligotrophic". That means our lake is LESS fertile and therefore is aging (filling in) at a slower rate than previously. All lakes are aging - filling in, but at different rates. We partially attribute the improvement to our weed cutting program that has been in effect since 2001. This summer (2011) forty-six acres were cut, with the removal of seventy-four loads of weeds to the Town dump. Including the water enmeshed in the weeds, that was 185 tons. We now have a three-year weed cut permit from the DNR resulting from our recent lake study. Our State Trophic Index improved from a reading of "49" to "56".

The State Trophic Index for Horsehead Lake has remained very constant over the past four years, hovering around "50". Above "50" is considered "eutrophic", meaning a degeneration or aging is taking place. Currently, our reading is slightly better than 2002. (see link to DNR on our main web page for detailed information)

In June (6/21/05), the Secchi reading (how far the white/black disc is visible in water) was 5'. Recently (6/26/06) the Secchi reading was 7', which indicates greater water clarity. In early July, algae particles have increased and turned the water green.

Dissolved oxygen levels in summer are nearly identical over the past years. Oxygen content in the water is very high, down to about 6', then declines a little. During the winter, we depend on the aerator to oxygenate the water while oxygen levels decline due to snow cover and weed oxygen consumption. While we did have a larger "fish kill" than normal over the winter of 2005-'06, the aerator did prevent it from being worse. When a "fish kill" takes place, it usually affects smaller bluegills and crappies. Some bass were also affected this year. Most Northern Pike, and larger pan fish usually survive lower oxygen levels. Jim Goheen, aquatic biologist who installed and services our aerator, has said our lake really needs a second aerator on the north end to help our fish during the winter.

To sum up, our lake hasn't gotten worse, from a biological standpoint, for several years. Currently is on the border between a lake that is "healthy" and one that is becoming "eutrophic". We need to institute policies that will help the lake gradually improve with a Trophic State Index under a reading of "50".