For the past decade, Kathy Grant has annually taken a boat out onto Lodi Lake to measure water transparency as part of a study to monitor differences in waterways throughout the nation. This time she reports Lodi Lake is the clearest its been since she started.
Grant, the Lodi Watershed Education Coordinator, is in charge of assessing the water clarity of Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River. She drops an 8-inch black and white disk known as a Secchi into the lake, recording the depth at which the disk is last visible before it disappears into the water.
Yesterday, Grant reported that the disk was visible at an average of 8.5 feet, almost two feet deeper than last year.
"(This measurement) is an indicator of a whole bunch of other factors," Grant said.
Suspended sediments, plant life, salts, dirt, pollution and other runoff materials can affect the clarity of the water. A decrease in transparency could point to an increase in urban and agricultural runoff.
Grant is one of many volunteers all over North America that assess water clarity, their collective data contributing to a Kent State University, Ohio database that has been tracking trends in water clarity since 1994.
This year, the middle of Lodi Lake is clearer than it has been since Grant began recording in 2001.
This season's increase in precipitation might be a contributing factor to the rise in clarity, she said.
"The solution to pollution is dilution," she added. "That's flushing out the system, like kidneys."
Contact reporter Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at email@example.com.