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(Reprinted from the Glens Falls Post-Star, June 26, 2004)


Student Studies Water Source’s Quality

Skidmore professors working with her on Loughberry Lake tests



By Erin Dower

SARATOGA SPRINGS—She drinks it, she showers in it (skipping the occasional day), and now, she's studying it.

   Boat
Post-Star photo by Monty Calvert
Sue Van Hook, left, Kim Marsella, and Christina Schull take water samples on Loughberry Lake.
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 reservoir.

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 said.

"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 year—up 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 needs.

"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," Marsella said.




Creative Thought Matters.
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