Questions

What should I do with medications I want to get rid of?

Pharmaceuticals and over-the-counters medications, except liquid medications, can be disposed of at collection boxes at these Kosciusko County locations:

Warsaw Sheriff's Department - 221 W. Main St.
Warsaw Police Department - 2191 E. Fort Wayne St.
Syracuse Police Department - 310 N. Huntington St.
Milford Police Department - 121 Old State Rd.
Pierceton Police Department - 207 N. 1st St
Mentone Police Department - 201 W. Main St.

To dispose of liquid medications, pour them in coffee grounds or kitty litter. Place in sealed bag and put in your trash.

What should I do with paint, oil and household chemicals I want to get rid of?

Recycle unwanted items at the KC Recycling Depot at 220 S. Union St., Warsaw.

What should I do if I see something in my lake that looks concerning?

If you live in Warsaw and see an unknown substance in a waterway that you think could be harmful call the Warsaw Wastewater Treatment Utility at 574-372-9562 to report your concern. If you live outside of Warsaw you can contact the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Emergency Response at 888-233-7745.

What should I do if a I come across a fish kill?

Fish kills (the die-off of multiple fish in a waterway) can be reported to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Emergency Response at 888-233-7745.

Is the foam or oil on the water surface pollution?

If the white, tan or brown foam has a fishy or earthy smell it is likely natural, whereas if the foam is whiter in color and has a fragrant smell, it is likely from an artificial detergent.

Oily film floating on the water can be from a petroleum product washed in from an adjacent road or storm sewer pipe but will more likely come from natural bacteria decomposition of plant material in the bottom mud of the lake. An easy way to determine if the oil is natural is to disturb the oily film by dipping an object into the water. If the oil flows back together again immediately, it is an unnatural petroleum product, but if the oil breaks apart and does not reform together, it is from the natural bacterial decomposition.

How do springs in lakes and streams work?

Lakes and streams can be classified as “gaining” or “losing” depending on whether groundwater is entering or leaving the lake at a given time. If the water table is lower than the lake basin or stream bed at a given time then water will drain from the lake or stream into the groundwater. At this time, that lake or stream is considered to be under losing conditions. If the water table is higher than the lake basin or stream bed at a given time then water will drain from the groundwater into the lake or stream (creating a spring). At this time, that lake or stream is considered to be under gaining conditions.

Is phosphorus bad for lakes and streams?

A little is good but too much is bad. Nutrients, such as those found in a bag of fertilizer, stimulate plant growth. This provides more food for smaller fish, which then in turn provides more food for bigger fish.

It is logical that an increase in nutrients at the bottom will eventually lead to larger-sized or greater numbers of fish at the top. This relationship does hold true with low to moderate levels of nutrients in lakes, but when nutrients are added to a lake in excess, then the relationship breaks down. High levels of nutrients lead to so much plant growth that when this plant matter dies and decays it uses up oxygen from the water faster than it can be replenished. Oxygen levels can get so low that fish and their food sources cannot survive in these areas. Thus, the chain is broken and what was good for the lake in moderation became harmful to the lake when there was too much.

The root cause of many of our current challenges for our lakes and streams stems from an excess of phosphorus.

Why does the water in my local lake or stream change color?

Water with few particles in it appears blue because blue light scatters freely throughout the water and reflects back to our eyes. But when water has tiny particles suspended in it that causes different colors to be reflected back.

Some of our lakes can appear turquoise on a sunny summer day due to calcium carbonate particles in the water and light colored bottoms in hard-water, marl lakes. The tea brown color seen in many streams and some lakes comes from organic materials in the water as a result of decomposing plants and animals in an upstream wetland or watershed drainage area.

Some unnatural colors can also be seen. Pale gray and chocolate milk brown come from improperly managed urban and agriculture runoff areas, respectively. It is common to see lakes with a greenish hue due to high algae populations in the water. Depending on the type of algae present, the water can even look pink.

Is agriculture ruining our lakes and streams?

Many farmers are already adopting more responsible practices and investing in new equipment to minimize their impact on local lakes and streams.

Farmers want to keep topsoil on their fields and even build it up over time. Likewise, with fertilizer prices at all-time highs, farmers seek to optimize the timing and amount of fertilizer applied to maximize crop yields while minimizing fertilizer costs and losses to streams and lakes. These goals of keeping the soil and nutrients on the agricultural fields have resulted in several new practices and technologies that some farmers are utilizing.

Nutrient Management: Just the right amount of phosphorus fertilizer is injected into the soil as corn seeds are being planted. This allows for rapid uptake of the nutrient by the plants and very little chance of runoff to a local stream. The application rate varies as the tractor moves across the field based on existing soil fertility gauged from soil testing.

Cover Crops: Rye grass is often grown over the late fall through early spring. This holds soils and nutrients in place for next year’s crop, rather than allowing nutrient and soil loss over winter months due to erosion.

Animal Feed: Feed can be specially formulated to reduce nutrients in resulting manure.

Manure Management: Field soil testing is performed to identify nutrient needs before manure is spread on the ground. In newer poultry operations, chicken waste (called litter) is dried on conveyor belts to minimize ammonia volatilization, which is another potential nutrient pathway to lakes.

Is boating hurting local lakes and streams?

This is largely unknown. We reason that certain boating activities may stir up phosphorus from bottom sediment for example, but this has not been quantified to know how important this is.

I am concerned about CAFOs in my area, what should I do?

First, learn more about CAFOs in our Outreach Materials section. Second, if you still have concerns or unanswered questions, contact the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Agricultural Liaison Steven Howell at 317-232-8587 or snhowell@idem.in.gov.

I am concerned about flooding on my property, what can I do?

Start by reviewing the 2009 Flooding Forum FAQ. There are answers to 27 questions related to flooding.


Didn't have your question answered? Ask us at lakes@grace.edu!