Hi! My name is Blake Lea and I traveled to Menomonie, WI on Sunday afternoon from my home town of Rushford, MN. Despite Menomonie being only a short 1 hour and 45 minute drive from my hometown I had admittedly never been here until last Sundays move in. The drive up was very familiar for the first half hour as that took me to Winona, MN, which is where I am currently attending Winona State University and studying Environmental Geoscience and Biology. From there I traveled up beautiful Highway 61 to Wabasha, MN. This is where I began to see some new stretches of highway, bluffs, fields, rivers, streams, and lakes that I had never seen before!
One of my favorite sites on the way up after crossing over to the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River was the Chippewa River when you cross over it at the bridge in Durand. I have always been amazed by the Chippewa, because of the historically high sediment loads that it has carried in the past that have essentially created a dam at its mouth on the Mississippi River that formed beautiful Lake Pepin.
After spending a little time in Menomonie and seeing parts of the Red Ceder River that flow into and out of Lake Menomin here in town I can't help but notice that it is also currently a very large sediment load. Adsorbed to the surface of this sediment and in solution in the river/lake water are many elements, but two in particular are extremely interesting to me. Those two elements are Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P).
I am interested in these two elements, because their high concentrations in the lake water is what is causing the massive algal blooms in the lake in the late summer and early fall that are so overwhelming and out of control that the lake is rendered useless for the most part.
My goal this summer is to hopefully produce some data that will hopefully help the local governmental agencies and NGOs locate specific sources of the pollution to the lake so that they can try and allocate their funding in locations that will give them the largest reduction in loading per dollar!
P.S. As Nels would say I'm excited for my research to "Change the world!" Which it will no doubt! :) Keep tuned to see how!