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Bill Jones
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2007

National EPA lake survey draws on SPEA for Indiana water research

July 25, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As part of a survey of lake conditions nationwide, professor Bill Jones of Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs is leading a team of researchers studying 50 lakes in Indiana. The research is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and will be used to assess the health of lake waters, evaluate the effectiveness of protection and restoration efforts, and suggest future actions to prevent pollution.

SPEA graduate students Ted Derheimer, John Moyer, Aaron McMahan and Amanda Watson collect a sample from a sediment core.

SPEA graduate students Ted Derheimer, John Moyer, Aaron McMahan and Amanda Watson collect a sample from a sediment core.

Under Jones's direction, IU-SPEA field crews are sampling water and sediment from the lakes, which were selected randomly to represent the range of ecological conditions in Indiana. Crews measure indicators such as habitat conditions, microscopic plants and animals, bacterial contamination, dissolved nutrients, temperature and clarity. Sediment cores will be analyzed for mercury and diatom shells, which will allow researchers to construct of picture of both past and present lake conditions.

The Indiana effort, which began last month, is being coordinated through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Results from the lower 48 states will be compiled in a 2009 report on the "Survey of the Nation's Lakes." The survey will function as a scientific report card indicating the number of lakes that are in good, fair or poor condition. The report will examine ecological, water quality and recreational indicators, and assess the status of key stressors, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and acidification.

Jones explained that this effort will provide information that has previously been unavailable on a national level.

"The Clean Water Act requires EPA to report biannually to Congress on the status of waters in the country. EPA requires the States to submit Section 305(b) reports biannually and EPA compiles these into the report to Congress. However, each state uses different methods, procedures, and levels of effort to monitor their waters and the national report isn't consistent among states and doesn't really answer the question, 'What is the status of the nations' waters?' So, this is the first statistically-valid monitoring of the nations' lakes since the National Eutrophication Survey conducted in the early 1970s," he said.

"The results will be used to determine the real status of the nations' lakes, to see if and what water pollution control measures are working and to see what additional protections and policies need to be in place," Jones said.

To view a list of lakes being sampled in Indiana, visit the Indiana Clean Lakes Program at For more information on the nationwide survey, see

To speak with Jones, call 812-855-4556 or email