After reading over 30 years of data, Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District’s new analyst says he’s unsure about the quality of the advice the District has been getting.


After reading over 30 years of data, Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District’s new analyst says he’s unsure about the quality of the advice the District has been getting.

Since 1980, the District has been collecting water samples in the lake and sending them to FXBrown, an environmental engineering and consulting firm out of Lansdale with specific lake and watershed expertise. Since that time, the District has been monitoring five different locations on the lake, two of which have always offered different values from the other three.

Ed Molesky, the new lake ecology expert hired to interpret the data, says only one of several possible readings has been used as the chief marker, and he’s concerned that may be misleading the District into a false sense of security by making them think that one indicator is a good judge of the overall health of the lake.

Molesky said there should have been more analysis of other parameters as well, which would offer more complete data. He said the data set was incomplete in other ways as well, since the digital copy of the data wasn’t labeled as to whether the water samples were taken from the surface, middle or bottom of the lake.

“You have a great amount of data here,” Molesky told the District’s Board of Directors at their meeting Aug. 19, “But we’re going to have to spend some time compiling it into a more useable format. There’s a lot here for the new guy on the block to digest, but I can say your latest round of analysis from Wilkes University was incomplete at best , because they weren’t really aware of what they were looking at. This doesn’t mean you’re going in a bad direction, just that I don’t know if the advice you’ve been getting was good.” 

The paper reports of the analysis done over the last 30 years are excellent, says Molesky, but in order for them to be used well, they will have to be compiled into a digital database that will allow for better trend studies and forecasting.

“Methodologies change from lab to lab and over time,” Molesky said, “Anyone doing a study of historical data needs to take that into account.” He also explained that he wasn’t confident about some of the parameters FXBrown was testing for, since in his experience many labs don’t calibrate their equipment down to the low levels needed for accurate lake ecology studies, they just extrapolate mathematically based on the data they do have, and this isn’t nearly accurate enough for the creation of beneficial Best Management Practices.

Verification and completion of FXBrown’s data will be necessary before Molesky can give the District an authoritative report on where they should go from here in terms of testing and pollutant mitigation programs, he said.

The Lake Wallenpaupack Management District’s Board of Directors usually meets at 5:30 pm on the third Wednesday of the month, but next month their meeting will be on Monday the 28th. The meetings are held in the PPL Environmental Learning Center offices, Rt. 6, Hawley.