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Lake research is priority for science team

It’s been more than a year since Dr. Theodora Pinou, WCSU associate professor of biology and environmental sciences, took on the enormous project of ridding Danbury’s Lake Kenosia of environmental pollutants.

Lake Kenosia — situated on the city’s west side — has long been a gathering place for Danbury residents, and in the early 1900s attracted weekend crowds from as far away as New York City. But in recent years, development around the lake has caused an imbalance that is threatening the health of the fresh-water environment. The lake suffers from low oxygen and invasive plants and periodic algal blooms.

Thanks to numerous grants and donations, including one from Danbury-based Bedoukian Research, Pinou and her team have spent the past 18 months collecting water samples to determine how and where to put a drainage system that would alleviate runoff that is toxic to the lake.

“The idea was to find the right place for a drainage system so we can maintain the water in Lake Kenosia for recreational purposes,” Pinou said. While the team had anticipated the most runoff at the lowest point of the water source, the study reached an unexpected and opposite conclusion.

“It was kind of odd,” Pinou said. “We need more long-term monitoring because we thought we’d get a higher concentration in a lower sampling site than a higher sampling site. We need to determine whether the numbers are true or an anomaly. It’s a question of where the best place is to put a treatment train.”

The Western research team will conduct further analysis of Lake Kenosia water samples with the goal of determining where a drainage system should be placed. “We will be able to continue our research through the summer,” Pinou said. “At that point, we’ll know whether we have a site.”

The research, which has been assisted by an environmental consultant and Danbury’s Greenway consultant, Jack Kozuchowski, has provided a great research opportunity for two Western graduate students: Nicole Stiteler, of Newburgh, N.Y., and Aaron Ferraro, of Brentwood, N.H. The students have worked consistently to collect water samples at the lake for laboratory analysis.

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