VLAP (Volunteer Lake Assessment Program) on Millville by Linda Mele
It was the first full day of summer of 2023. The weather was perfect - breezy and sunny in the 70’s. The state biologist, Sara Steiner (who happens to be the coordinator of the whole NH VLAP program), met us on the shore of Millville for our “training” of collecting samples of our lake water with a VLAP manual and some great scientific instruments. There were four MLPA volunteers (Peter Mahoney, Nate Meisner, Al Souza and me) that attended this training, and we will train the others as we go through the summer in subsequent samplings. We will borrow these instruments when we are on our own.
We all boarded the pontoon boat along with all the equipment Sara brought and headed for one of the three (3) twenty-foot-deep spots on the lake. She picked the one that had already been sampled which the state had the results which was off Woodmeadow Beach. We used a Kemmerer Bottle which allowed us collect separate samples of water from varying depths. We used a “messenger” that went down the calibrated meter-marked chain that closed the Kemmerer Bottle at the selected depth. We put our samples in different labeled bottles. We used a gadget called a Secchi Disk that allowed us to measure the clarity of the water, a depth finder, and a thermometer. We recorded our findings on a data sheet. It was all so scientific.
Then it was off to other testing sites. For these shallower sites we just scooped the water and bottled the samples. We sampled one of the fingers off Stone Post Road and the water by the dam (the outlet). We were to sample the inlets to the lake and decided to do that from land rather than from the water. So, we drove to the Hitty Titty Brook that feeds the lake on Millville Street near Millville Circle and the small tributary that runs between Walter Palmer Lane and Grove Ave. Sara took our samples up to the lab in a cooler. It will take about a month to receive our first report.
Some things I learned while on the boat:
- Science is cool.
- Our lake is probably a “stratified lake” which is comprised of two layers of varying temperatures - (warmer top six feet, cooler on the bottom.)
- There is less dissolved oxygen in colder water. When the weather cools in the fall and winter, the layers combine, and the temperature and the saturated oxygen is more uniform throughout the water column.
- Difference between a lake and a pond – generally a pond is shallower, but more likely the name is from the preference of the entity who named it.
- The summer-time monthly testing of our water will bring awareness to changes in its composition. The VLAP monthly report will suggest remediation for any of those changes that need attention.
- We are a fun group. We wanted to come up with a name for the volunteers in this project. We are to be known as Millville’s Water Monitors.