Thanks to the generosity of three investors, the 75th Campaign has been challenged to raise $75,000 which they will match dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact of every gift.
“Over seven decades of caring about our water by many people has brought us to where we are today,” said GLA development chair, Lori Lyman. “Through sound management practices, cutting-edge research and support by boards, staff, and a long list of volunteers committed to saving this resource, GLA is known throughout the state and beyond. Despite this strong leadership and progressive programming, the challenges continue with more invasive species, increased pressure and use and changing environmental conditions. To save this cherished water, GLA needs to remain vigilant in its research and education efforts.”
Please help us by investing in the future of the GLA during this landmark year. Your support will enable GLA to continue to research and deploy environmental best practices resulting in protecting and preserving the unparalleled Glen Lake/ Crystal River Watershed.
It has been widely accepted by many Swimmer’s Itch scientists that once Common Mergansers (once thought to be the major player in Swimmer’s Itch on Glen Lake) were live trapped and ready for relocation, that the approved DNR relocation sites were “safe” places to set the trapped birds free. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved relocation sites based on four principles:
New area is not a good swim area;
Site is free of the snail species that carries the parasite that cycles through Common Mergansers;
Not a place where the DNR fisheries were planting fish;
Suitable for Common Merganser survival
The 2019 Swimmer’s Itch research has now confirmed that many of the relocation sites have been tested “positive” for the species of parasite that cycles through Common Mergansers! This is bad news for the Swimmer’s Itch control program because it likely means that relocating Glen Lake mergansers to relocation sites that already have the parasite will only increase—perhaps dramatically—the itch risk for swimmers near the relocation sites. This new discovery presents a new ethical dilemma for the GLA and other lake associations around the state that use live trapping strategies.
One would think that a simple solution to this dilemma would be to find new sites that meet the DNR criteria where the parasite is not present. This may be a solution, but in the opinion of the local experts, there are likely “no new sites” to be found. Also, new discoveries have shown that relocated mergansers travel up to 20 miles once they are set free.
Old Assumptions, New Thinking
Just a few years ago, it was thought that almost all of itch-causing worms came from Common Mergansers, with other birds like Mallards and Canada Geese only minor contributors. It was standard thinking, therefore, to assume that removing Common Mergansers from Glen Lake would have a major impact on reducing itch risk.
However, 2019’s research on Swimmer’s Itch shows that Mallards and Canada Geese contribute to the parasite load in percentages higher than imagined. The mix of Swimmer’s Itch parasites from all the birds collectively contributes to increasing itch risk.
New data also suggests that snail densities, which can directly impact itch risk, fluctuate significantly from year to year. For example, when certain species of snail densities are high and combined with high population densities of the bird host, then SI risk for that specific life cycle can be problematic in a given year and move to center stage while other life cycles either hold their own or diminish.
What does this mean for Glen Lake and our lake-wide effort to control Swimmer’s Itch? One thing is certain, the life cycle that is dominant one year may play a minor role in the next year, depending on snail density fluctuations and changing bird populations. This is a complex issue, with Mother Nature throwing in all kinds of twists and turns that make lake-wide control not only difficult but perhaps unattainable.
GLA will continually update you with new information as we receive it.
The GLA has engaged Freshwater Solutions, LLC and the University of Alberta Canada to conduct a pioneering study on septic influences on our surface waters (lake) and drinking water (private drinking wells).
Ordinarily, the county health department and/or the National Park Service is involved in monitoring public beaches on Glen Lake for E.coli and will close down beaches if E.coli exceeds safe levels for swimming. As in the same way with drinking water, the county health department is primarily responsible for testing home drinking wells, with the tests including E.coli, nitrates and other parameters.
So why is GLA getting into research that health departments normally cover?
The reason is centered around the advent of new technology that the health departments are not yet equipped to handle. The new technology involves quantitative polymerase chain reaction, or qPCR. With this new technology, we can detect and quantify the DNA of enteric bacteria that comes exclusively from septic systems.
Our goal this summer is to choose 15 willing riparians on the shores of Big and Little Glen and test for enteric bacteria in the drinking water and the surface waters along the beach. There will be three sampling dates for each site. Samples will be taken during June, July, and August. If you are interested in gaining some peace of mind and are willing to be a part of this study, please contact Rob Karner, GLA’s watershed biologist, at his email: email@example.com.
We will also combine water samples with septic drain field analysis and evaluation using drone technology and infrared cameras. We hope to be able to determine if drain field failure is detectable using thermal imagery.
If you are interested in being a part of this study, please contact us soon. There are limited spaces available for this unique, in-depth opportunity. Those who are selected to participate will be asked to contribute $250 each, to offset the total project cost of $8,900. For the cost of a regular septic inspection ($250) you could learn much more about your system and support the Glen Lake Association in conducting important research.
Note: Results of the study will be shared with the membership in a statistical manner that protects the privacy of individual participants. Individual results from each of the sampling sites will only be shared with each respective property owner in a confidential manner.
We look forward to your individual interest in this important study. Remember, failed septic systems are one of the leading causes of water quality degradation.