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Lake Carmi Watershed Workshop: Lake Science 101

In case you missed it...


On September 5th, Lake Carmi community members gathered together at the Franklin Homestead & Carriage House to hear from Lake Champlain Basin Program Chief Scientist Matt Vaughan. This educational Watershed Workshop, titled "Lake Science 101" outlined some lake chemistry and biology basics and made space for community members to ask questions they've always wondered about Lake Carmi: Why does phosphorus build up in lakes and why is this important? What causes cyanobacteria blooms?


We learned a few key things about lake science in the context of Lake Carmi:

A diagram shows the movements of Carbon, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus between lake sediments, water, and the atmospher.
Carbon and nitrogen can volatilize, or change to gas. Phosphorus cannot, and therefore it sticks around in freshwater lake systems.
  • Phosphorus sticks around in water bodies because it doesn't volatilize. In other words, it does not move between the lake surface and the atmosphere. This is why phosphorus builds up in freshwater lakes and causes lake health issues.

  • This legacy phosphorus that builds up is considered to be a large issue in Lake Carmi in particular. Legacy phosphorus can be released from the lake sediments and is then "bioavailable." This bioavailable phosphorus is then ready to be taken up by cyanobacteria.

  • Low oxygen levels at the bottom of a lake make it more likely for legacy phosphorus to be released and therefore fuel cyanobacteria blooms.


This blue green algae coats the lake surface and boat access at Lake Carmi.
August 2023 cyanobacteria blooms at Lake Carmi.

Interested in learning more about lake science in the Lake Carmi watershed? Check out the recording of this workshop.

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