Friends of Lake Monroe, an organization created in 2016 to protect Lake Monroe, will present the results of a two-year project addressing water quality concerns in the lake and potential solutions during a virtual public meeting June 15. Their findings indicate risks to the lifespan of the lake and its ability to be used as drinking water.
The project focused on studying the Lake Monroe watershed, which is a 441 square mile area of land that drains into the lake, according to a summary report. It was funded by grants from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Key findings identified harmful algal blooms in the water, which are caused by high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients are used as fertilizer on farms in the watershed and can be washed into the lake after heavy rains.
Other causes of harmful algal blooms are septic tank runoff, industrial waste and sediment. These blooms can release toxins that raise the cost of water treatment.
The report says the Lake Monroe watershed is highly erodible. Streambank erosion, conventionally-tilled cropland and insufficient erosion-control in forestry and construction sites all contribute to the buildup of sediment in the water, which will eventually make water sources unusable.
The report recommends keeping livestock away from streams, inspecting septic tanks every three years and planting cover crops and a line of vegetation at the end of crop fields.
Friends of Lake Monroe plans to implement several measures to help protect the lake, including a cost-share program to aid individuals with septic tank management. The organization also expects a second grant from IDEM, which will help them fund best management practices and educational initiatives.
Individuals are encouraged to register for the virtual meeting.