CLA Deploys Probes to Monitor Underwater Light and Temperature

Goal is to gauge possible impact of winter weather on invasive plants and algae

The Candlewood Lake Authority has deployed a pair of automated probes to measure underwater light and temperatures as part of its ongoing effort to track and fight the spread of aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, and algae blooms.

The two research probes were attached to a buoy, set at depths of 4 and 8 feet, and deployed in a wide part of Candlewood Lake approximately equidistance from the shores of New Fairfield and Brookfield.  The small devices will record light and temperature data from early November through late April.  The CLA plans to retrieve the devices in the spring, and download the recorded data to a computer for analysis.

“Tracking the periods of ice-on and ice-off, as well as the water temperatures and the amount of sunlight penetrating to various depths, can help us better understand how those winter conditions facilitate or impede the growth of aquatic invasive plants and phenomenon such as algae blooms,” explained CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano.

The CLA has been collecting the data on winter water conditions since 2008.  Mr. Marsicano said the effort began at the recommendation of Mr. Alberto Mimo, an environmental consultant who is also the manager of the CLA Project CLEAR initiative.

“The periods of ice-on can vary dramatically from year to year, and may even be part of longer-term trends related to nearby regional or broader, global conditions,” Mr. Marsicano said.  He pointed to the two most recent winters, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 -- where one was cold with significant ice coverage from early January to mid-February, and the other was mild with no ice coverage -- to illustrate the possible range of winter conditions affecting the Lake.

“The quantity of sunlight, the quality of sunlight and the duration of sunlight all have a bearing on plant growth and development,” he continued.  “It may be possible, once sufficient data on winter lakewater sunlight and temperature is collected and interpreted, and evaluated with other environmental factors, to better predict summer levels of algae or weed cover and to take possible preventive measures.”

“Plus, if there is a change in the long-term trend in ice coverage, that change will likely trigger other changes in the ecology of the Lake that we should be monitoring as well.”

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