Mittry Lake water tests to continue
The Arizona Game and Fish Department will test the water in Mittry Lake in the coming months to get a snapshot on the overall health and quality of the ecosystem.
The Mittry Lake Wildlife Area is about 18 miles northeast of Yuma, on the east side of the Colorado River between Laguna and Imperial dams. The waterway offers a wide variety of habitats, from open lakes to cattail marshes and streamside woodlands.
“As our schedule permits, we plan to periodically test Mittry Lake for dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity, pH and total dissolved solids,” said Russ Engel, Game and Fish Region IV fish program supervisor.
The tests will be conducted during as-of-yet-unscheduled dates prior to any fish surveys in the spring and fall months.
“We would also test if a problem, such as a fish kill, was reported,” Engel said.
It is important for the Mittry Lake ecosystem for the water to be clean, Engel added. “Good quality water is important for the health of the fish and other organisms that live in the water or use the water.”
The water is expected to become dirtier in the autumn.
“As aquatic vegetation dies off and decays in the fall, it can adversely affect water quality,” Engel explained. “If the water is stagnant, the quality of it can deteriorate fairly fast.”
As of the last test, conducted in the fall of 2011, the water quality was at an acceptable level.
“The limited testing we did last year actually showed better water quality than we were expecting to see,” Engel said. “The water quality is OK at this time and does not warrant any ‘drastic' measures to improve it.”
However, if the water quality becomes more toxic, there are no specific plans to “clean out the area,” Engel said.
One possible course of action to prevent toxicity in the first place would be to increase the amount of water flowing in and out of the lake.
“We believe a little more flow through the area would help ensure that we do not run into problems in the future, and it could improve and expand the areas of riparian and marsh habitat,” Engel said. “Flows also help keep the salt content down, which generally benefits desired vegetation.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.