BY DONNA TUCKER
Volunteers from West Carling have been involved in water quality testing in our area for many years. The Lake Partner Program (LPP) has historical data collected by Carling residents that consists of calcium and phosphorus levels and water clarity that dates back to 2004. The Program is looking for local volunteers. At present, the only active site of data collection in West Carling is in Long Bay
The LPP is Ontario’s volunteer-based, water-quality monitoring program in place since 2002. Each year, more than 600 volunteers monitor total phosphorus and water clarity in almost 550 inland lakes at over 800 sampling locations. Volunteers collect lake water samples and return them, postage paid, to Dorset Environmental Science Centre (www.desc.ca). Total phosphorus and calcium analyses are performed in their water chemistry laboratory.
Why are phosphorus and calcium measured?
In the past, part of the volunteer monitoring that occurred along eastern Georgian Bay included bacteria monitoring. It is now recommended by scientific studies that phosphorus monitoring is a better measure of overall water quality. Phosphorus is the nutrient that controls the growth of algae and most living animal and plant life in the aquatic environment. If it is too high it can result in algal blooms that may affect drinking water, recreational activities like swimming and fishing and shoreline property values. Calcium is measured as all living organisms require calcium to varying degrees. For example, zooplankton, the first link in the food chain are very sensitive to declining calcium levels.
Why is the Lake Partner Program important?
The data are published each January on the LPP website. The data are used to inform environmental research and economic research and decisions related to shore development.
For more information on the Lake Partners Program go to:
What would my commitment be?
Calcium and Phosphorus testing is carried out once in the spring around the May long weekend or early June. Water clarity testing using a Secchi Disc is carried out monthly. The LPP provides most of the required equipment, postage and a training video. Volunteers provide some form of watercraft to get to the site, a rope and a weight.
Where would I collect the data?
The Program Coordinator for LPP has recommended starting with sites that have existing historical data which include:
David Bywater (Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve) has also suggested that sites further off-shore would be useful as well and has suggested that water quality be tested near Bateau Island, the Minks and Twin Sisters.
If you are interested in learning about the water quality in the general area of your property, this is an opportunity to contribute to guarding our beautiful clean water and ensuring enjoyment for many years to come. This is an activity that could be shared with children to teach them about the importance of protecting our environment.
For information about how to volunteer, please contact:
Donna Tucker at email@example.com