Versluis Lake started out as a gravel-pit in the early 80’s, then as Grand Rapids Gravel pulled the plug on this location about 2002 the development in the area began. In 2006 Versluis Lake experienced a flooding from the Grand River (which is adjacent to the lake). This flood introduced carp and zebra-mussells into the lake. After it settled back down to a normal level (from a rise of 13 feet over 36 hours) the visibility in the lake was churned up.
After about 12-18 months there was a noticeable increase in the visibility, due in large part to the introduction of zebra-mussells. At it’s prime Versluis Lake was offering up to 30-40 foot visibility with blue water and many fish to observe while scuba diving.
Recently (as of April 2013) the Grand River again flooded into the lake (as in 2006) but the flooding was a bit more intense as the water level increased approximately 4-5 more feet than in 2006, approximately 17-18 foot rise in the water level.
Consequently the visibility that summer was not as good, but made for great training environments and fish were still hiding below the platforms and our plexiglass dome, and as the seasons pass the visibility improves.
Couple of points to make about Visibility:
1) Visibility in any lake is based on many factors and a lake clarity cannot be judged on ONE dive. The FACTORS are:
- Time of year: The best time of year to dive in any lake in the Mid-West is generally NOT Summer as many do not realize. The best time of year to dive is usually September through to mid June. Not Late June through early September. The reason for this is the mid summer outside temperature will eventually heat up the water surface and penetrate downward from the surface, causing the algae bloom to cause turbidity lowering the overall visibility. When it is cooler out the lake starts to cool and turbidity settles. This means you will have to invest in that thicker wet-suit to do this, but frankly any lake (including the Great Lakes) will be too cold to dive under the thermoclines (that can vary in depth) even in the middle of summer. SOme of the best Great Lakes shipwrecks are at 70-130 feet down with water temperatures in the 50’s.
- Weather: If it rains. If it has been (or is) windy, the direction of the wind can affect the visibility for a few days afterward.
- Summer boat traffic on a lake: Boating on a lake can act as blenders that churn up the water. It is recommended to avoid lakes that are smaller and have several boater speeding around on it. You can count on poor visibility.
2) If you encounter poor visibility with your buddy on a dive, it is best to use this opportunity to practice skills. Review all of your scuba skills, practice taking turns with your compass, get out your dive light and hover close to the bottom to look for critters.
Every dive is a GOOD dive. Either it will be simply a clear-fun-enjoyable experience, OR anything else should simply be a training dive. No such thing as a bad-dive. Unless you are breaking scuba-rules.