East Kootenay lakes sampled for long-term trends

Ice-off sampling on Moyie Lake, B.C. LWA Photo

By Shannon McGinty, Lake Windermere Ambassadors Program Coordinator

During the spring freshet of 2019 the Lake Windermere Ambassadors had an opportunity to learn from experienced stewards with the BC Lakes Stewardship Society (BCLSS).

BCLSS was tasked by the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy to conduct standardized ice off sampling on three lakes in the East Kootenays: Lake Windermere, Columbia Lake, and Moyie Lake. This is part of the larger Long-Term Lake Trends Project.

The Ambassadors’ involvement in the project came about when BCLSS reached out to see if we would be interested in partnering for this sampling. As the Ambassador Program Coordinator, I worked with BCLSS President Norm Zirnhelt to coordinate volunteers and equipment prior to sampling, conduct the sampling, and ship the samples off to the lab. Coordination work consisted of:

  • Monitoring the lakes for melting trends
  • Setting a sampling date within two weeks of ice off for all the lakes (harder than it sounds!)
  • Finding and working with volunteers to operate boats on each lake
  • Gathering and ordering required equipment

After coordinating and the lakes melting, we were then able to conduct the sampling. We sampled Lake Windermere and Columbia Lake on April 19th and Moyie Lake on April 20th. Sampling consisted of:

  • Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, Specific Conductance, and pH Field Profiles (taken every metre up to 20m and every 5 metres thereafter)
  • Sechi and Site Depths
  • Epilimnion and Hypolimnion samples for
  • Phosphorous
  • Nitrogen
  • Sulfate
  • Metals
  • Total Organic Compounds
  • Dissolved Organic Compounds
  • Silica Reactive Dissolve
  • Turbidity
  • Chloride
  • Phytoplankton
  • Zooplankton

The Ambassadors were able to participate in this program by allowing myself as Program Coordinator to contract out to the BCLSS partnership with Living Lakes Canada (LLC).

This provides great value to the Ambassadors as it allows for their staff member to audit their sampling skills and stay up to date on sampling methods by connecting with a professional who has over 30 years of experience in this field.

The timing of this project was perfect as I had just started with the Ambassadors in December 2018, and was about to begin my first sampling season in May 2019, immediately following the hands-on training with BCLSS.

Although the Ambassadors don’t sample all of the parameters sampled on a weekly basis, there was a lot of overlap in methods of collection and monthly sample collections that has been (and continues to be) useful for the 2019 sampling season.

The results from this project have been made public for all users to access through the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy website. The Ambassadors use this data to supplement our own Spring Freshet sampling.

Needs addressed through this project include:

  • In-person contact for training and other aspects of lake management
  • Lake monitoring training and assistance designing an appropriate monitoring program
  • Auditing to correct monitoring procedure issues and maintain quality assurance of data

To learn more about the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and to contact Shannon McGinty, visit their website: www.lakeambassadors.ca


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