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A semester-long study of China Lake and its watershed suggests causes for concern about future lake water quality, according to Colby student researchers. They will present their findings at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, at the China Lake Conference Center’s Sukeforth room, on the Neck Road in China. The presentation is open to the public and should last about one and a half hours.

Students will report on the current water quality of the lake and environmental factors that influence it and will offer recommendations for improvement. They will also discuss the nature of the watershed and land-use patterns, past and present.

In recent years students in the upper-level biology and environmental science course “Problems in Environmental Science” have studied many lakes in central Maine, including Threemile Pond, Webber Pond, and Togus Pond. Each year they present their findings to the public and provide a formal report to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), town officials, lake associations, and other interested parties.

The MDEP and local lake associations have come to depend on the students’ data in their efforts to protect and improve lake water quality, MDEP officials said. Past research groups from Colby have recommended changes to reduce the amount of phosphorus that runs off the land into the lakes. Lake associations have funded follow-up activities that have enabled students to help implement recommendations to abate phosphorus runoff, which leads to algal growth and degrades water quality.

Professors David Firmage and F. Russell Cole oversee the lakes research conducted by senior Biology: Environmental Science majors. This year 17 Colby seniors participated in the research project.