Highly acidic water can be harmful to fish and can leach a variety of metals out of the sediments. pH and Alkalinity are important because they can determine the effect of acid rain on a lake.
pH is a measurement of the acidity of water. A pH value of 7 is neutral. Lower pH values indicate acid conditions, and higher values indicate alkaline conditions. Every 1 pH unit indicates a 10-fold change in acid concentration; therefore, water with a pH of 6 contains 10 times more acid than water with a pH of 7. pH is measured using an electronic device called a pH meter. The recommended minimum pH for a healthy lake is 6.5. Lake Singletary is slightly acidic. Singletary’s pH rarely drops to dangerously low levels.
Alkalinity is a measurement of the lake’s ability to "buffer" or neutralize acidity. Minerals in the soil and watershed affect a lake’s alkalinity. Lakes with alkalinity between 2 and 10 mg/L are considered moderately sensitive to acid rain. Alkalinity is measured by chemical analysis, which can be performed by trained volunteers using a test kit.
Alkalinity measurements show that Lake Singletary has some buffering capacity, but is somewhat sensitive to acid rain. Alkalinity data shows some buffering capacity, but indicates that Lake Singletary borders on being sensitive to the effects of acid rain.
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