Friends of the Lake (FOTL), in conjunction with Fairfield University professor Jen Klug, will install an automated system on Lake Lillinonah to monitor the water quality and weather conditions. Using this technology enables them to join the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), a grassroots network of ecologists and engineers who collect data on lakes in 44 countries. The data is used to understand key processes such as the effects of climate and land use on lake function. Lake Lillinonah will be one of two sites in New England to participate in this international effort.
The new technology system, to be launched this week, will provide real-time water and weather data to citizens and lake managers, as well as scientists. The information will foster a better understanding of the lake and assist in management decisions.
According to Greg Bollard of FOTL, the data collection system, including a sensing device, will be tested for the next few months to "work out the bugs" before being attached to the more permanent buoys. The cost of the project to-date is around $25,000, and has been funded entirely by FOTL. They will need an additional $15,000 to see the program through to completion, however that funding has not been secured yet. The Friends of the Lake plan to hold fundraisers over the next few months and are seeking support from local agencies.
The electronic monitoring will measure water quality parameters including dissolved oxygen content, temperature, acidity (pH), and the amount of algae present. It will also measure weather data, including wind speed and direction, sunlight intensity, rainfall and water levels.
The equipment will take readings every minute and transmit it to the FOTL website, where the information will be displayed in graphs, include past readings and allow users to chose what data they would like to view.
Water levels affect the ability of boaters and others to use the lake, which was created in 1955 from the Housatonic River to provide hydroelectricity. High water levels cause large amounts of floating debris, which can have a severe impact on the lake's recreational use.
The Friends of the Lake is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to improve the conditions on Lake Lillinonah for recreational enjoyment and long-term environmental protection.