By: Angela Danovi
Regional Projects Director and Beaver LakeSmart Coordinator
Saturday, August 20, was one of my favorite days of the year in Northwest Arkansas, Secchi Day on Beaver Lake. The event connects water quality professionals, citizen scientists, and environmental educators with the public to promote water quality protection of Beaver Lake. Thirty-five monitoring teams gathered before 8am to check in with their site leaders, collect supplies, and confirm their monitoring locations before boating out to their monitoring sites. Secchi transparencies were documented and water samples were collected at 35 different sites from the headwaters to the dam within a few hours.
Once teams finished monitoring, they raced back to launch sites to deliver samples and submit Secchi readings. Water samples were sent to the lab at Beaver Water District for analysis and secchi transparency results were sent to Prairie Creek recreation area where Dr. Bob Morgan and KNWA Meteorologist Dan Skoff announced and posted the secchi results with much fanfare! The results from Secchi Day will be compiled and a report will be available to the public around the end of October on the Beaver Water District website.
The Secchi Day Fair at Prairie Creek Recreation Area has become one of the largest water quality outreach events in Northwest Arkansas with over 550 people attending and participating in dozens of different educational activities. This year was my fifth year to represent Ozarks Water Watch at Secchi Day. I began my day kicking for macroinvertebrates at one of my favorite StreamSmart monitoring locations, Prairie Creek below the dam at Lake Atalanta. I was there in the hopes of collecting some big macroinvertebrates such as crayfish and hellgrammites, as well as some smaller water quality indicator macroinvertebrates such as mayflies, stoneflies, and water pennies. Thankfully, the good water quality of Prairie Creek provided some really nice macroinvertebrate specimen that I could use at the Ozarks Water Watch table. For the second year, four local high school girls from the Girl Scout Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas volunteered with me in setting up the display and talking with the public about the importance of macroinvertebrates and water quality. Their help was invaluable for connecting with the hundreds of people who stopped by our table to play with crayfish, ask questions, and learn about macroinvertebrates and water quality.
For the hundreds of people who attended the Secchi Day Fair, there were plenty of activities to keep them busy, entertained, and educated about water quality issues. The Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists brought 20 volunteers who staffed 8 exhibits including Plant This-Not That, Tree Cookies, Tube Trees, Watershed Model, Drop-In-The-Bucket, Incredible Journey, and Water Wheel Trivia. The Girl Scout Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas did the Water Drop Promise, which helped several Girl Scouts work towards earning their Wonders of Water Journey. Also featured was an annual favorite, the giant aquarium of native fish brought by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Despite early concerns about storms and rain, the 2016 Secchi Day on Beaver Lake turned out to be a success and everyone is looking forward to an even better event for 2017!
Beaver Water District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Beaver Lake, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Hobbs State Park, Arkansas Master Naturalists, the Association for Beaver Lake Environment, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Ozarks Water Watch, One Community, the North American Lake Management Society, and Girl Scouts Diamonds are co-sponsors of Secchi Day on Beaver Lake.