Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, twenty-six times a year, every two weeks, specialists from Benzie Conservation District are sampling water from Platte Lake and the rivers and streams that flow into it. There are 22 billion gallons of water in the lake. Since we can’t measure everything, everywhere, we identified the optimal sites at eight different locations for the sampling process to provide a comprehensive picture of the water that enters the lake.
Even in the dead of winter, water samples are obtained through the lake ice. If the ice is unstable, a sheriff’s airboat is used to get on the lake to obtain the samples. Where the water is the deepest, off Birch Point in the northwest basin of the lake, water is sampled using a specialized instrument that measures temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, oxygen reduction potential and pH at various depths all the way down to the bottom, 90 feet below. Learn more about our Sampling, Analysis and Monitoring process.
The Platte River State Fish Hatchery in Honor was once the single worst contributor of the phosphorus that polluted Platte Lake. Today, because of its sophisticated modern processes, the hatchery has evolved into a fish production facility with an attached water treatment plant. Working closely with the PLIA the Hatchery has developed nearly real-time information on the performance which gives hatchery personnel the ability to take corrective action quickly if the process falls out of compliance. Learn more about the Hatchery Monitoring process.
Since phosphorus was the primary culprit polluting our lake it remains the primary focus of our analysis. The analysis of the water samples obtained from all of the sites occurs at the hatchery. Elemental phosphorus must be extracted from various compounds to be accurately measured. This is done by a device called the “Digester” which has an appetite for breaking these compounds down using acid and heat. The phosphorus concentration, now calculated by a spectrophotometer, is directly loaded into the PLIA database.
This data is reviewed by members looking for short term fluctuations or long-term trends that could potentially affect the water quality of Platte Lake.
This ongoing partnership, between the Fish Hatchery, the Benzie Conservation District and the Platte Lake Improvement Association has resulted in a beautiful lake with excellent water quality and provides a management and surveillance model for watersheds across the nation.
More than just lake monitoring
In addition to our regular monitoring of the lake and collaboration with the Hatchery, the PLIA engages in special projects related to issues that impact our lake. Learn more about some of the other issues we’re focused on: