(Editor’s note: Total area of lake habitat in Indiana is estimated to be almost 300,000 acres; the southern tip of Lake Michigan makes up nearly half that amount. Limnology, or the study of lakes, is a bit more than a century old and has early roots in the sandy Hoosier lake bottom. IU established a field station on Lake Wawasee, Indiana’s largest natural inland body of water, in 1895, and a pioneering study of Lake Maxinkuckee’s physical and biological characteristics, published in 1920, still serves as a model of how lakes have been studied elsewhere.)
Photo courtesy of SPEA
Astrid Merget, dean of IU’s SPEA, got a lesson in using a Secchi disk from Bill Jones (left) and grad student Wendy Drake at Monroe County’s Griffy Lake last summer during Lake Awareness Month.
Volunteering to dip into the cool waters of a lake may seem merely an intelligent human response to the hot, humid days of an Indiana July. But Bill Jones, professor of environmental sciences at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, defines “dipping in” very differently.
Jones, who has managed the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, organized a Dip-In at Lake Griffy in July. Along with his environmental science students and SPEA Dean Astrid Merget, he joined other volunteers across the state who dipped light-measuring instruments called Secchi disks into lakes, rivers and streams throughout the summer.
They were gauging the transparency of the water and gathering other important information for state and national environmental organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North American Lake Management Society.
“With over 2,500 volunteers participating nationally, the Dip-In provides a comprehensive picture of water quality in the United States and Canada,” explained Jones. “It also helps the EPA and others meet their shared goal of increasing the number of volunteers engaged in monitoring their local environment.”
The 2003 Dip-In coincided with Lake Awareness Month, designated by the EPA as one of several celebrations nationwide marking the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.
For other stories relating to water resources internationally or ecosystems in the state, go to the online archival editions of IU Home Pages at these Web addresses: