Scout leads lake water testing

By Gordon Hunter

Jack Jackson is an ambitious Sea Scout embarking on a unique project to test the water quality of White Rock Lake, including the levels of e-coli bacteria that at times pour into the lake. It’s testing that no group or individual on a regular basis has done before — until Jack came along with his plan. He’s also going to be recording lake depths to provide facts for the debate on dredging, something advocated by lake groups and now with Dallas City Hall for likely months and months of discussion. “I wanted to do something that I’d be proud of,” Jackson (pictured) said, something unique, something to give back to the lake community.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Finger

Jackson is a 16-year-old sophomore at The Cambridge School of Dallas who speaks the scientific language of a water quality tester when he describes his project. He started his quest for lake information with a phone call in July to Richard Grayson, a leader of the Texas Stream Team. The team is aligned with For the Love of the Lake (FTLOTL), a non-profit organization whose volunteers support programs to preserve and enhance White Rock Lake Park.

Grayson says he jumped at Jackson’s offer to complement testing, which volunteers with the Stream Team have been doing for 15 years. They measure water quality in all the streams flowing into White Rock Lake, just the streams. No individual or group has routinely tested water quality of the lake itself, Grayson said, until Jackson came up with his plan.

Jackson started at the end of September measuring water quality at four locations on the lake, returning to each on roughly the same day each month, at the same time of day. The tests include an advanced one for e-coli levels, which have increased recently as upstream pollutants multiply with suburban growth. He’ll be using the White Rock Boat Club’s motor board to get around the lake for the first year of testing.

For a second year of the project, Jackson will be recruiting people for the Sea Scouts, no easy task in a landlocked city 290 miles from Galveston. He’ll be managing the testing and depth soundings in the second year.

FTLOTL board members at a meeting in early September said they support Jackson’s project and will consider budgeting money for it in the 2020 budget.

So what compels a 16-year-old to undertake a project that requires such commitment and time? The Sea Scout Quartermaster Award, the highest award in the organization, does. To meet one of the eight requirements to earn the award, Jackson has to “plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project that is helpful to any religious institution, school or your community.”

Jackson already knows about top awards. Before joining the Sea Scouts, he was a (land-based) Scout who achieved the highest honor in that organization, Eagle Scout. His longer term goals include college and, beyond that, possibly the high seas of the world, very fitting for a Sea Scout. “I want to go into the maritime industry,” Jackson said.