Research tracks changes at University Lakes

Linda Benedict, Morgan, Johnny W.  |  11/23/2011 10:38:20 PM

This yellow monitor is in the middle of the LSU lake; the other monitor, top photo, stands near the bridge on Stanford Drive. (Photos by Y. Jun Xu)

monitor

Trying to keep the University Lakes in Baton Rouge clean and healthy is a goal of LSU AgCenter researcher Yi Jun Xu, associate professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources.

For the past three years, Xu has used funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents Equipment Enhancement Fund to study the lake’s health.

"When the project began in 2008, the focus was on two areas – enhanced teaching in water resources and to provide sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment for surface water research,"Xu said.

Xu and his graduate students receive measurements of the dissolved oxygen, pH and water temperature every 15 minutes from equipment in the lake. He said his data can be used by state agencies and others interested in water quality.

"I have a piece of equipment on a floating platform that sends data from the lake in real time to my computer," Xu said. "We always know what’s going on with the lake." Over the years, the lake has become more shallow, and Xu believes it will become a swamp unless something is done fast.

"A major problem the lake is experiencing right now is pollution and sediment buildup," Xu said.

Until funds are available for dredging, the public and residents of the lake need to be aware of what’s getting into the lake.

"You would be surprised at some of the things we find in the lake," Xu said. "We see anything from bottles to tires to refrigerators."

Xu realizes the importance of the lake to LSU as a symbol when entering campus and says everything possible must be done to keep the lake healthy.

"This is really important research because so many people use the lake and we need to make sure that it stays healthy and something we can be proud to show off," Xu said.

Johnny Morgan

(This article was published in the fall 2011 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)

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