Last season Phyllis Laine, Richard Roeper, Intern Kelsey Mills, Intern Meagan Walters, Barry Lishawa, and I (Len Klein) collected samples for chemical analysis and measured physical parameters on Long, Mickey, and Ruth Lakes. While we found some year-to-year variation in several parameters, long-term trends for most parameters appear to be stable. We found no significant algae blooms on the lakes.

Phosphorus levels in the lakes are always a concern. High levels of Phosphorus in the water can cause algae blooms and promote the growth of aquatic plants. We recommend eliminating fertilizer use near the lakes, establishing native vegetative shoreline buffers to catch runoff, and proper septic system upkeep. These are all critical factors in reducing the eutrophication of the lakes, which willhelp preserve the health of the lake ecosystems, our property values, and recreational use. Some Phosphorus is already in the sediment and is likely permanently buried; but some can be recycled back into the water column. We will be checking bottom sediment Phosphorus levels this summer to determine if this has occurred since they were last measured in 2014.

If you fish in Long Lake, you might be interested to know that Long Lake keeps some dissolved oxygen in the bottom waters through early summer. However, by midsummer Long Lake is stratified, and the bottom water is devoid of oxygen. Most of Mickey Lake and all of Ruth are too shallow to become stratified.

Calcium levels in Long and Mickey remain at levels that Zebra Mussels have been able to colonize in a laboratory setting. Zebra Mussels have been observed in both lakes. The Calcium level in Ruth Lake is not near the level where Zebra Mussels are likely to become a threat.

After assisting in water quality monitoring for many years, Barry Lishawa has decided to retire. We will miss his presence and expertise.


In the last LLA Newsletter from the spring of 2021, we provided an article regarding the alarming emergence of Zebra Mussels in Long Lake. Before 2020, we had very few findings of this invasive species. That year after a few discoveries, we asked that all riparians on the Lake be on the lookout for Zebra Mussels in 2021 and report any occurrences during the summer. The good news is that many riparians responded and provided approximately 25 findings, many with photos that supplied dates and locations. The bad news is that we had about 25 findings, indicating we have a growing population. Your reports came from all areas of the Lake and came in throughout the summer, starting in mid-May and ended late September during dock removal. Most reports had small volumes of only 2-3 zebra mussels, but your photos revealed them to be healthy in size, 1/2-1 inch in length. There was one report of possibly over 100 in a colony around a concrete block that had been in the water for over a year.

So, given the fact that there is no magic remedy for eradicating Zebra Mussels, what can we do? The LLA requests that you continue the excellent work from a year ago. As you come across them, cleanly remove them from their attachment and destroy them on dry land. Do not leave any part of the mussel body in the water. Report the date and location to the LLA board. Contact Rick Dahlstrom either through email or by text at 248-568-4263. PLEASE educate friends, relatives, and renters who may be bringing boats onto the Lake to wash their boats and clean out ballast or bilge tanks before launching. Wake boats with large ballasts can be particularly harmful as an unsuspecting carrier.

This will be our second year of careful monitoring, and your cooperation is greatly appreciated. We hope to gain better clarity on the level of Zebra Mussel infestation, and your reports will be the key to that! Thank you for all that you do to maintain the high quality of Long Lake


In 2014, Long Lake monitoring was performed by Great Lakes Environmental Center of Traverse City.
This monitoring is undertaken every 3 to 6 years.  The report concluded that these long-term water assessments, starting back in 1997, allows any important emerging trends in water quality to become evident, and provides the opportunity for appropriate action to be taken to address any concerns.  Phosphorus concentrations are considered low and indicative of excellent water quality.  Sampling data indicates that Long Lake would continue to be considered oligotrophic, high quality lake based on total phosphorus in the water.  Oligotrophic is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “having a deficiency of plant nutrients that is usually accompanied by an abundance of dissolved oxygen”.  “Water quality conditions in Long Lake have potential to be vulnerable to deterioration.  It is recommended that Long Lake continue to have a comprehensive outreach and education component regarding nutrient use near the lake shore, as well as continuing efforts for surface water runoff control.  These will all help limit the introduction of additional phosphorus (such as using fertilizer containing phosphorus on lakeside lawns) to the lake ecosystem and help preserve the oligotrophic status.”

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Do not feed ducks, geese, swans or sea gulls.
  • Do not bathe, wash hair or bathe your pets while in the lake.
  • Do not clean boats or lift covers with soap or chemicals, and rinse in lake.
  • Use necessary precautions to avoid accidental spills of gas or motor oils. Remember: one quart of motor oil can potentially contaminate 250,000 gallons of water.
  • Rake leaves away from the lake. Do not burn leaves or have bonfires close to the shoreline. Ashes contain soluble nutrients which quickly leach into the water.
  • Do not dump fish cleanings or any refuse into the lakes.
  • Advise children and/or adults to not defecate in the lake.
You Can Help
Since 1921 dedicated citizens comprising the Long Lake Association have significantly contributed to its welfare and preservation.Today, as the watershed’s population continues to swell, life issues like water quality and resource preservation and protection loom even larger. By 2025, Long Lake Township’s population is forecast to grow by 5,200 persons. The result is 1,900 additional housing units and three square miles of added housing area.

That’s why we need you!
Long prized among the state’s cleanest and clearest inland lakes, spring-fed Long Lake’s reputation and continued health has never been more dependent on the efforts of organizations like the nonprofit Long Lake Association and its collaborative partnerships.Citizens are encouraged to become involved by joining us and becoming an active member. Please contact Membership Chairman, Long Lake Association Inc., P.O. Box 257, Interlochen, Michigan 49643 to join.

A spring discussion meeting is held annually on a Saturday in June, and an annual membership meeting is hosted on a Saturday in August. Association newsletters are published before each meeting as reminders.

Won’t you do your part?


The most prevalent causes of excessive lake plant and algae growth are fertilizers and faulty septic system wastes that seep into the water system.

The dense vegetation that results threatens the natural balance of lake plant and aquatic life, thus accelerating the aging process of the lake.

Here are some important and helpful facts to remember:

  • Phosphorus from septic tanks and/or systems can travel as far as 300 ft. through soil to the lake. Soils already saturated with phosphorus from fertilizers cannot efficiently remove this chemical from septage tanks. The result is nutrient pollution. DO NOT use a fertilizer containing any phosphorus or potash unless a soil test indicates a need for these nutrients. Look into using “0″ phosphorus fertilizers. Remember that eutrophication is the process of nutrient enrichment of lake waters. Phosphorus is usually the key ingredient in this process.
  • Use fescue grass, rather than bluegrass, for establishing your lawn. This type of grass requires less than half the nitrogen of a bluegrass lawn. Water lawns sparingly to reduce lawn nutrient run-off to the lake.
  • Avoid fertilizer-herbicide mixtures. If weeds become a problem, apply herbicide treatment in the fall.
  • Whenever possible, rake and remove fall leaves from your lawn. This precludes leaves blowing into the lake and increasing nutrients.
  • Waterfront property ownership affords riparians an obligation to do what is right for the lake and provides it protection. Planting greenbelts (strips of ground cover with shrubs and trees) can help preserve the cleanliness and clarity of our lakes. Greenbelt buffers can limit nutrient leaching caused by excessive lawn fertilization and faulty septic systems. Greenbelts also control erosion on sloping banks as vegetation roots help prevent soil erosion caused by water run-off, wind and wave action.


Septic systems are an efficient form of wastewater treatment when properly maintained. When overloaded, neglected or incorrectly maintained, these systems are likely to fail and cause accelerated lake eutrophication.

Know the layout of your septic system in relationship to your home, installation, service and service dates, etc. Use the folder WQ-39 available from the Michigan State University Extension Office for recording relevant information about your septic system.

Tips for keeping your septic system operating properly:

  • Inspect tank every two to five years for sludge level.
  • Pump tank when sludge level exceeds one third volume.
  • Never build, drive on, pave over, or fertilize around your drainfield.
  • Consult your septic system pumper to establish how often your particular usage requires service. Follow this schedule.
  • Plant shallow rooted plants around drainfield.
  • DO NOT dispose of poisons, drain cleaners, bleach, paints, chemicals, disinfectants, grease, cigarette butts, hair, facial tissues, paper towels, sanitary napkins, motor oils, water softener waste, or band-aids into sinks or toilets.

Signs of septic system problems:

  • Clogged drains and toilets backing up.
  • Foul odors around septic tank or drainfield.
  • Wastewater surfacing around drainfield.
  • Dark green algae growth on rocks along shoreline.
  • Conserving water is a key ingredient to a properly functioning septic system. Heavy water use forces solids and soil particles to clump and pack together. In turn, these clumps will clog drainfields, necessitating replacement of the entire septic system.


  • Repair dripping faucets and toilet leaks.
  • Add a brick to your toilet tank(s) to save a half to one gallon of water per flush. (Each flush will use five to seven gallons of water.)
  • Install water conservation devices on shower heads.
  • Only use dishwashers and washing machines when fully loaded.
  • Minimize use of garbage disposals. Begin a composting program for waste materials and yard leaves.