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  • Adirondack Lake Science

    https://youtu.be/YFOFwA2KU3Q

    I came across this again looking for something else. This is not new, and it may have been posted on this forum already, but I could not find it... soooo...

    Fairly interesting documentary about the research regarding how watersheds in the Adirondacks handle pollutants.

    One interesting observation they make is the vast majority of pollution from rainwater comes from direct deposition onto the lake rather than runoff. The forest can, and does, filter a fair deal of the nitrogen pollution (which is what they were talking to).

    They found it interesting, although confirming what is observed in many ecological system, that understanding any particular water bodies throughout the hydrological system required understanding the whole system, and not those in close proximity i.e. everything connected.

  • #2
    http://www.adirondacklakessurvey.org/historic.php
    Be careful, don't spread invasive species!!

    When a dog runs at you,whistle for him.
    Henry David Thoreau

    CL50-#23

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    • #3
      WOW - that's a great link!

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      • #4
        I know that data is kind of old from the ALS, but it's pretty interesting. I started looking over a lot of ponds/lakes that I'm familiar with and it's amazing how different some of them are (hence why the Cary Institute did their study). Some have vastly different characteristics even within close proximity.

        I looked at a number of the ponds in the southern 5 Ponds and Pepperbox and most were dead. Highly acidic, shallow. Probably not much dissolved O2. Little more than beaver ponds. But is that really the case? Does anyone know if any of those ponds supported fish in years past?

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        • #5
          There is more than one small lake in the area you mention that has been experimentally limed in not too many years past. The DEC dropped bags of lime on the ice in winter so it dissolved during the spring melt, when acidification was the worst. I have seen the lime residue in the shallows of some, and those lakes do have a decent thriving trout population now. I've hiked into them and caught a few brookies.
          "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

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          • #6
            Yes, I've heard of that being done. Glad to know it has some success.

            So I'm guessing those ponds probably did have fish at one time. I know that area has a history of having a lot of "sportsmen's" camps before the state got hold of it.

            One thing I'm a little unclear about is why these low volume ponds/lakes don't get flushed of their acid over the years of having less acidic deposition? You would think with all the rainfall we have in the western Adirondacks that all those acids would have gone down the Oswegatchie or Beaver River by now and off into the sea.

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            • #7
              I believe it is due to the natural condition of the soils in the region being acid to begin with, plus the tannin and decomposing leaf litter adds to the acid. So there is no natural ability to obtain neutral pH water in the first place. Interestingly, just a few miles west on the other side of the Black River valley, there are vast limestone deposits that would neutralize any acid. Accumulated winter snows melt and release an entire season of acid contained in the precipitation all at once, just at the critical wrong time when trout are spawning and most susceptible to reproductive failure from acid water. Soils in the eastern Adirondacks are less acid, plus most of the acid precipitation from Ohio smoke stacks and other polluters has already been deposited to on the western Adirondacks. I am sure you can find scientific studies published on the process, especially regarding acid rain in this region. I've read some in the past, but memory on specifics is perishable.
              "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

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              • #8
                Looking through the data it definitely seems like small, shallow ponds with a lot of muck silt or organic bottom are the most acidic and lacking fish.

                A lot of ponds that I thought would have been fairly highly impacted were in pretty good shape, other than invasives.

                I also recall having terrible heartburn on backpacking trips in the western Adirondacks after drinking the water for a long period of time. It was the first time I ever experienced it and thought perhaps it was the tannins, but I think now, looking at the data, it was the areas I was in and the ponds and streams being below 5 pH.

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                • #9
                  My wife usually tries to tune out whatever video rabbit hole I've gone down, but while watching that link above I asked her if she'd ever been to the Cary Institute. Her job there is what brought her to NYS. She watched the video.

                  Good to know about research being done in this manner, I can imagine being in a wilderness area and seeing that plane come down and fill a water bottle then leaving and thinking they'd done it just to get a drink.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Banjoe View Post

                    Good to know about research being done in this manner, I can imagine being in a wilderness area and seeing that plane come down and fill a water bottle then leaving and thinking they'd done it just to get a drink.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wldrns View Post
                      I believe it is due to the natural condition of the soils in the region being acid to begin with, plus the tannin and decomposing leaf litter adds to the acid. So there is no natural ability to obtain neutral pH water in the first place. Interestingly, just a few miles west on the other side of the Black River valley, there are vast limestone deposits that would neutralize any acid. Accumulated winter snows melt and release an entire season of acid contained in the precipitation all at once, just at the critical wrong time when trout are spawning and most susceptible to reproductive failure from acid water. Soils in the eastern Adirondacks are less acid, plus most of the acid precipitation from Ohio smoke stacks and other polluters has already been deposited to on the western Adirondacks. I am sure you can find scientific studies published on the process, especially regarding acid rain in this region. I've read some in the past, but memory on specifics is perishable.

                      The answer is in the ALSC report... somewhat.

                      The type of lake impacted is definitely as I was seeing in the data - they are mostly what they call mounded seepage lakes. The lakes get most of their input from direct deposition on the lake surface and have no outlet. Layers of muck and organic matter tend to seal them off a bit. These lakes/ponds must lose water through the ground and evaporation. I'm not sure if the acids cannot move through the groundwater, but the acidification doesn't seem to be an issue for what they call flow-through seepage lakes, which don't have a lot of muck and organic matter. Perhaps the peat traps enough of the acidic water to keep increasing the pH?

                      There's also a fair deal of chemistry that I don't understand, and I don't think was well understood in the report either. Yes, there are a number of natural processes that make certain lakes acidic, and they have low neutralizing capabilities but it doesn't really answer why the depositions become trapped and increase the pH to a lethal level - if that is even the case. It seems like they didn't really know how well those type of ponds could support fish. Also whether or not a total freeze of the pond (because its small and shallow) could be responsible for killing the fish population.

                      The lakes that were probably the most disturbing to people were the "thin-till drainage lakes" that were becoming sterilized. A very small amount of the lakes that were acidic were this type. And some still had fish at the time of the survey.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wldrns View Post
                        ...Accumulated winter snows melt and release an entire season of acid contained in the precipitation all at once, just at the critical wrong time when trout are spawning and most susceptible to reproductive failure from acid water...
                        Native species of trout (i.e. brookies and lakers) are fall spawners. Brown trout are as well. Rainbows, however, do spawn in the spring. Regardless, that gush of acid snow melt is a bad deal for sure

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                        • #13
                          oops, I was not aware of the exact timing. I had aways heard that acid affects trout reproduction, did not know when, but the worst acidification is known to come during spring melt. Thanks for the info.
                          "Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman

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                          • #14
                            I know I've seen some anglers talk about this on the forum before, but can the brookies repopulate those small, high altitude ponds again if there was a die-off (either from acidification or freezing)? I assume there's at least a chance if they have an outlet i.e. drainage lakes. I don't see how they could repopulate the mounded seepage lakes i.e. no inlets or outlets. And how were they populated in the first place? By humans or other animals?

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                            • #15
                              You're right...I believe it is Lake Colden. Brook trout and their decendents are millions of years old..they have been here well before the Adirondacks, as we know them, formed. Still it's hard to fathom how they survived all of the geologic changes like upheavals, glaciers, etc

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