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Science and the Environment

What’s Clouding Our Region’s Lakes?

Beaver Lake
Ozarks Water Watch

Officials say late December’s heavy rains coupled with recent windy conditions are clouding up some Ozarks’ area waterways. This is evident at Table Rock Lake and Beaver Lake.

“It’s been two months almost, it’s the heavy rains and so we expected it to be settled out by then but there’s been many factors keeping it re-suspended,” says Borchelt.

Gopala Borchelt with Ozarks Water Watch is taking about the 10-inch rain the region received within a 24 hour period in December. That washed large amounts of soil and organic debris, or sediment, into the rivers and lakes, which later settled at the lake-bottoms and along the shoreline. But windy days have caused a lot of wave action, again eroding shoreline and re-suspending sediment in the water.

She says in lakes the size of Table Rock and Beaver it is best to let nature run its course and the cloudy water dissipate on its own.

Even as murky conditions clear up, Borchelt notes another way the cloudy water could return later this spring.

“So as the sediment drops out and the sun heats up the water a little bit more and can reach deeper depth, we could have some brown algae blooms which are those diatoms that live in the little glass houses made of silica.”

These algae, which she says resemble brown tea, could emerge in areas of the lake such as Lower James River and Kings River and last about a week. Borchelt adds that the diatoms are not hazardous to humans and actually are eaten by young fish.