Unless you have stepped on one or more of the Zebra Mussels or live in the weed-infested West End of Crystal Lake, the lake is in good shape.
Part of the audience at the State of the Lake presentation.
That was what I drew from Crystal Lake Park District presentations by Dr. Neal O’Reill, Gary Schaefer and Jeremy Husnik, all of Hay and Associates.
Hay and Associates combined several factors that monitor the health of Crystal Lake. The goal is to have the indicators between the lines in the middle. That's where they are.
Most of the phosphorus comes from the part of the watershed that flows through Lippold Park into the West End of Crystal Lake.
Phosphorus levels are held down in Crystal Lake by high levels of calcium carbonate, which bonds with the phosphorus, which then sinks to the bottom of the lake.
75% of the water coming into Crystal Lake comes from through Lippold Park. Just as one goes hunting ducks where the ducks are, the Park District was advised to try to reduce phosphorus where most of the water comes from.
An EPA 319 cost sharing grant is being sought to to improve the water quality coming out of Lippold Park.
The clarity of the lake is good and getting better because of the invasion of the Zebra Mussel. Now one can see down about 10 feet. In a couple of years of infestation, the filter feeders may make it possible to see 12-14 feet deep. Long-term effect of the non-native species probably brought in by boats that were in Lake Michigan may be a shift to larger algae.
Zebra mussels are now everywhere around the lake.
This is a map created in 2008. The shell symbols show where Zebra Mussels were found as researchers were inventorying plants are pre-determined locations. If a similar map had been created this year, the entire shoreline of Crystal Lake would be covered with the white symbols.
Ironically, the weed problem can be attributed to a native species called eel grass. It’s what Park District employees can be seen removing from the screen above the little dam (wier) at the outlet of the lake.
Eel grass is the weed that clogs Crystal Lake's West End. The Park District pays for applying herbicide along the shore and corridors to deeper waters, plus harvests the propeller-tangling weed.