The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Life in a Pond: water quality studies 2009.09.16

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Pick up a rock from a river or pond, turn it over and stare at it for a while. It’s going to take a few moments, but you’ll soon see it come to life.

That’s what Anne Coburn-Griffis did  Sunday afternoon at the Ed and Carol Nofziger property near Pettisville.steve.seining.jpg

Under a tent near the road, guests were learning how to tag monarch butterflies from Pat Hayes of Kelley’s Island. But back in a field another tent was erected near a pond and that’s where Anne and her husband, Steve, were talking about aquatic life.

“Do you see anything alive on this rock?” she asked some children. “There’s a planaria, an aquatic worm. Over here is a beetle larva.”

There were also some caddisfly larvae and more.

“There are probably 15 different things that make their home here—and try not to be fish food,” Anne said.

Anne is coordinator of the Northwest Ohio Stream Quality Monitoring Program for Ohio Scenic Rivers—a branch of the Department of Natural Resources. She said she felt a little out of her element standing next to a pond. She’s accustomed to the running water of a river, but she’s impressed with what she’s seeing in this wetland.

“In a wetland you can find many of the same things as in a river, but different species,” she said.

She doesn’t know everything she’s seeing in this pond, but she and Steve brought along some specimens from a stream near their home in Putnam County, just in case they didn’t find what they were after here.

Dragonflies and damselflies were buzzing around the pond. Meadowhawks and eastern pondhawks and more.

“There goes a widow skimmer,” Steve said. “They eat mosquitoes like crazy.”

But it’s the aquatic life they were here to talk about—the insects, mollusks and crustaceans that live below the surface of the water. girls_at_pond.jpg

The dragonflies are fun to watch, but it’s the larvae that interest Anne. What lives in the water indicates the quality of the water, and when something is missing, there’s a problem.

“You can gauge the health of a water source by what’s missing from the food chain,” she said. “If certain things aren’t there, the whole food chain falls apart.”

Water quality could be tested on a chemical basis, Anne said, but biological monitoring is cheaper and a lot more fun. She lets Steve take over for the entertaining portion of the show.

He starts off by showing a dragonfly nymph in a small plastic case with a magnifying glass built in. As it’s passed around the audience, Steve notes that dragonflies spend as much as five years underwater before emerging as adults.

He likens its mouth to a beast from a horror movie. It’s almost like a mouth within a mouth. The lower jaw unhinges, folds out and surrounds the prey.

Next he shows the smaller damselfly nymph and then the water scorpion.

“Even though their name sounds horrible, they’re pretty harmless,” he said as a water scorpion crawled around his hand.

It resembles a walking stick and it’s in the same family as the praying mantis. It’s actually a bug.

“All bugs are insects,” Steve says, “but not all insects are bugs.”

A typical insect uses its jaws to tear up the food it eats, but not the bug. It injects an enzyme into its prey, then sips out the resulting liquid meal.

“Even though the water scorpions spend 99 percent of their lives in the water, they’re actually terrestrial animals,” Steve said. “They’re pretty ungainly fliers, but they can fly.”

They’re usually in the water hunting,  their tail sticking up through the water to breathe through like a snorkel.

He passed around a crayfish, noting that it looked like a small lobster. Anne confirmed that the taste is similar, too.

Crayfish generally move backwards in the water. They have gills for breathing in their life under water, but they also possess lungs for time spent on the land.

Anne asked audience members to guess the number one factor leading to water quality problems. The responses danced around the correct answer, but didn’t hit it right until someone suggested soil-laden runoff.

“The biggest impact is the amount of dirt aquatic animals have to filter out,” Anne said. “It’s like breathing smoke 24 hours a day.”

Satellite photos show the plume of brown water leaving the Maumee River and entering Lake Erie.

She demonstrated how a turbidity stick is used to gauge water clarity. The 36-inch clear tube is filled with water and the user looks down into the tube from the top. Water is poured out a little at a time until a dark spot at the bottom becomes visible.

The pond water looked clear in the tube, but algae breakdown prevented seeing the bottom until the depth was down to about 25 inches. At the Maumee, Anne said, seven to nine inches is generally the rule.

Wetlands serve as a natural filtration system, Anne said. They’re providing an important service, and not just in water quality.

“There was a fear a few years ago that all these ponds would lead to a mosquito problem,” she said. There was concern about the spread of the West Nile Virus.

“A good healthy wetland is teeming with all these wonderful predators that are eating mosquitoes like crazy.”

She and Steve will continue their efforts to teach people about the value of a diverse range of organisms, from the tiny planaria to the dragonfly flitting past your head.

• Anne Coburn-Griffis leads volunteers on water quality monitoring projects along the Maumee River from May to October. For more information, call her office at 419/981-6319.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016