My name is Dave Ullrich and my favorite water body is a small 125 acre lake in northern Wisconsin called Cochran Lake.
It is in the Lake Superior watershed so is part of the Great Lakes system. I first dipped my body into Cochran Lake in 1952 when my family went to northern Wisconsin for a visit. That was the beginning of a life long experience with Cochran Lake and many other water bodies all across the world as a matter of fact. But Cochran Lake is still my favorite Lake. I grew up there as a kid in the summer swimming, water skiing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, doing everything on that lake and just looking at it was a wonderful thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s we started to have very serious problems with algal blooms and excessive weed growth.
I wasn't a biology student or anything like that, but it bothered me a great deal that my lake was getting contaminated. So I worked with a microbiology professor and started taking water samples in this lake in 1970 and was able to document that we had excess fecal coliform counts and all sorts of other contaminants in the lake. So I took this to the cottage owners on the lake and said your septic systems, including the one in our cabin, were leaking into the lake. If we wanted to save the lake long term, we had to fix our septic systems, we had to start harvesting the weeds and take much better care of the lake.
So that was over 40 years ago. Everybody replaced their septic systems, we have been cutting the weeds and keeping the lake much, much nicer. This summer we didn't even have to cut the weeds, but we are having more problems with algal blooms and I'm not quite sure where they are coming from. I still water ski on the lake. I had kind of a bad accident a couple of years ago – I thought I was still a teenager, but I'm not a teenager anymore and I can't quite water ski like I used to water ski so I messed up my hamstring muscle but I found a good doctor to fix that up so can I water ski on Cochran Lake again and I go swimming.
Of all the memories that I have there, I think that floating out on the lake at 2 or 3 in the morning and looking at the northern lights is probably my favorite. I've watched many full moons come up over the lake. I met my wife on the lake as well. So it has all sorts of good memories and that's my story of Cochran Lake and my Watermark for you.