(Reprinted from the Glens Falls Post-Star, June 26, 2004)
Student Studies Water Sources Quality
Skidmore professors working with her on Loughberry Lake tests
By Erin Dower
SARATOGA SPRINGSShe drinks it, she showers in it (skipping the occasional day), and now,
she's studying it.
Christina Schull, a junior at Skidmore College, is conducting
collaborative research with the college's environmental studies faculty
to learn more about Loughberry Lake, the city's drinking water
Post-Star photo by Monty Calvert
Sue Van Hook, left, Kim Marsella, and
Christina Schull take water samples on Loughberry Lake.
Although the city regularly reports to the state about the water's
quality, Schull is studying aspects of the lake that have not been
considered since the state's 1988 Sutherland Report.
Schull's data could indicate the longevity of the lake as a water
source. Her report will be turned over to city officials when she
concludes her research at the end of the summer, she said.
The research project stems from studies of Loughberry Lake that all
Skidmore environmental studies students are required to do, Schull
"I tell other students, 'This is the water you're drinking,'" Schull
said. "That's so cool."
The city has used 250-million-gallon Loughberry Lake as its drinking
water source for more than a century. The Sutherland Report indicated 16
years ago that the lake would not sustain the city's water needs for
more than 10 years.
Skidmore teaching associates Kim Marsella of the geology department and
Sue Van Hook of the biology department said Schull is using professional
equipment and techniques on the lake, then conducting hours of
meticulous lab work that involves chemistry, biology and geology.
Schull is measuring in-flow and out-flow, pH, temperature, algae
content, water clarity, alkalinity and amounts of dissolved oxygen,
nitrate and phosphorous of the reservoir, she said.
One fact the data will indicate is whether vital elements of the
drinking water are being consumed during algae's decomposition cycle,
Van Hook said.
"Anything we can do to help share information to the city is really
important to us," Marsella said.
The city's Public Works Department is allowing Schull and Skidmore
science faculty on Loughberry Lake with a rowboat to take measurements
and gather samples.
Public Works officials are welcoming Schull's research.
"We're happy to have that information," Public Works Director William
McTygue said Friday.
Tom Kirkpatrick, the city's chief water plant operator, said Loughberry
Lake's water level has dropped the usual amount for this dry time of
yearup to an inch a day.
Kirkpatrick said tourist season takes a major toll on the water supply
every year, but he can't guess how long the lake will sustain the city's
"I don't know; I don't think anybody really knows," he said. "That's why
this will be useful to us."
Regardless of the results of Schull's research, Van Hook and Marsella
said they hope the city increases its efforts to encourage conservation,
including at Skidmore College, the city's top water consumer.
"I really think we at Skidmore should be taking the lead on this,"
Creative Thought Matters.