Kootenay Lake- Wide Water Quality Monitoring Program
Is our Kootenay Lake water healthy?
When thinking about this question, “Healthy Water” is essentially water that can sustain life. However, “’Water quality” is a term the describes the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a water sample measure up to a set of standards’ (http://terra.nasa.gov/). Some of the ways in which water quality can be assessed is by tests such as color, odor, temperature, acidity, bacteria content, biological diversity, and many others.
Temperature monitoring of watercourses plays an important role in understanding healthy aquatic ecosystems. The fluctuations in the temperature of lakes and streams over time influence the overall water quality and the distribution of individual aquatic species, which can range from insects to fish. This topic is critical to both the daily and seasonal fluctuation of in-lake and instream temperatures to fully understand why the waterbodies behave the way they do. For instance, temperature influences growth rates of fish and determines what habitat many species can use over the course of the year, but also affect our very own drinking water and safe recreation experiences.
Information collected by citizen scientists on Kootenay Lake increases the amount of data available for decision making and builds awareness of the extent, causes and ways of reducing water pollution problems. Volunteer water monitoring is one of the most important volunteer program Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society and the number, complexity and variety of water projects in which volunteers have participated in is continually growing.
Beginning in 2013, with a two-year gap in order to increase capacity of monitoring kits and funding and resuming again for 2016. The Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society has generated a program for Lake-Wide Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring Data Collection. This project seeks to collect Water Quality Data from 25 diverse sites from around Kootenay Lake. The program collects weekly to monthly readings of specific locations, during the hours of 10am -2pm, from April- October of each year, with a minimum of 12 readings a year.